All Recipes

Green Tomato and Lime Chutney – because we have frost at last

Choosing the date for “first frost”  is always tricky – do I count a tiny brush of wilt on the lowest dahlia in the lowest spot? Or do I wait for the day when the basil turns black, summer squash – what’s left of it – goes transparent and the zinnias are no more?

snapdragon bouquet

Goodbye to all that.

Either way, this year “first frost”  is now in the record books.

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Tomato Savings Time

farmstand tomatoes

A recent sighting at Schoolhouse Farm, in Warren, Maine

We grow a lot of the food we put by for the winter, so most of the relevant posts here start in our own back yard. But as I was just saying on the radio, you don’t need to have a garden to take advantage of seasonal abundance; there’s plenty of it at farm stands and farmers markets. And it’s a bargain. When the fields are yielding full tilt, locally grown produce is not only far more delicious than the stuff in the supermarket, it’s also far less expensive.

Seasonal, however, is the magic word; if you want to eat well in the winter you have to stock up when the stocking is good. It’s easiest if you have a big freezer but even if your freezer is small and already full of pizza and ice cream, saving great produce for winter is not difficult.

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Pole Beans, Tomatoes, Ripe Peppers…Oh My (and it isn’t even September yet)

yellow vegetables squash corn beans

The old fashioned crookneck squash and Gold of Bacu beans are from our garden; the corn’s from the farmstand up the road and the vanilla butter* is the touch that turns them from yellow vegetables into winter joy.

Official Kitchen Garden Day was August 22, but at the time I was too busy planting fall crops, harvesting the everlasting beans and squash, canning roasted tomatoes and making plum jam to do any live-blogging, and yesterday was much the same except for an evening pizza party with freshly picked peppers, tomatoes and basil and the whole family around the outdoor oven.

If you actually have a kitchen garden, every day is Kitchen Garden Day – that’s the whole point. All spring, summer and fall, you plant and eat. All winter, you eat and plan for next year.

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Black Trumpets (Craterellus fallax) – Pizza, Mushroom Brie and more

craterellus fallax wild mushrooms

Bill, being an honest and trusting soul, set up this photo without remembering that people have been known to stuff baskets with filler and put a layer of mushrooms on top. So just for the record that IS four pounds and nine and three-eighths ounces of black trumpets and the only reason it isn’t more is that we left the littler ones to grow larger for later.

Now what?

brie with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet brie is one of the easiest, tastiest things to do with black trumpets and you don’t need many, either

pizza with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet and caramelized onion pizza is also quick and delicious.

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SUMMER CAKE – Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake with Raspberry Cream (and a variation, for reasons that will be explained)

blueberry peach upside down cake

Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake ( actually this one is about half white nectarine)

My friend Nancy is not big on baking, but she does love belonging to the Maine Slice of The Cake Committee, so I suggested she try the impressive-for-how-little-fuss-it-takes Blueberry Peach etc. cake from The 3000 Mile Garden. Then I got to feeling uneasy, on account of not having made one for quite a while…

Decided it might be smart to bake one up, just to be sure I was still proud of it. Did. Am. But

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Maine Crab and Lobster (Mushroom) Cakes – with Cilantro Nectarine Mayonnaise

crab cake with lobster mushroom

Maine crab and lobster mushrooms inside that crunchy crust

At the risk of jinxing things I have to say this is shaping up as a boffo mushroom year (in Midcoast Maine, anyway.) We haven’t had much chance to go out, but when we do we are finding things, including lobster mushrooms, which seem to be unusually abundant.

I am of the school that feels they get their name from their brilliant color. To me, the flavor is meaty, not fishy. But others claim they also taste faintly crustaceanlike. This isn’t as farfetched as it sounds; mushroom cell walls are primarily composed of chitin, the same material that makes crab and lobster shells.

Either way, they have a great affinity for Maine crabmeat, one of the world’s greatest seafoods.

cut crab and lobster mushroom cake

Those bright red bits are the mushroom

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Maine Blueberry Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

hazelnut blueberry oatmeal cookies

The picnic classic, downeast edition

Usually, when I give a party, I prepare the food. But at our recent garden soiree for the Maine Farmland Trust, these cookies were my only contribution. (Food luminary Nancy Jenkins, an ardent Trust supporter, did all the rest, leaving me free to obsess about weeding.)

Because we wanted to showcase raw materials that come – or could come – from Maine,  the cookies were made from Maine-grown oats. Local eggs. Butter was my regular butter, Kate’s. The blueberries… well, of course

straw on garden path

The upper path is empty of people because everyone kept on going (the party was in the lower garden).

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Rhubarb Custard Pie – A Recipe to be Reckoned With

Though I do say so myself, I make a mean rhubarb pie:  elegantly plain, in the classic flaky crust plus sweetened fruit fashion; lily-painted, as in Deep Dish Rhubarb Peach Pie, and mixed with black cherry jam , as an easy rhubarb crostata that’s not really pie but is really tasty (and very nearly instant).


lattice top rhubarb pie

The pie that makes people say “ I thought I hated rhubarb, but this is wonderful!” is Carol’s Mother’s Deep Dish Rhubarb Custard Pie.

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Ramp Recipes

The season is brief. Ramps are increasingly endangered and so to be enjoyed in mindful moderation. Generally, the only recipe you need is “sauté in butter; eat (with or without eggs and/or pasta or  toast points and maybe some ricotta).”

Or you can coat them with olive oil and put them on the grill.  But Bill has found several patches so vast that even very modest gathering has put us in ramp heaven.

spring vegetables: ramps, asparagus and herbs

Must be spring - but not for much longer

And as we are also swimming in asparagus, winecaps and morels

I have now made Pasta with Asparagus and Ramp Hollandaise; Ramp-wrapped Meatloaf; Ramp, Winecap and Ricotta Stuffed Ramp-Wrapped Sole and some quite spiffy Roasted Ramps with Morels and New Potatoes.

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Ramps – finding, picking, cooking (and planting!)

Not in the back yard, actually. They’re in the utility area behind the back yard, about 20 feet from the compost heap. The little patch is no more than 30 inches from the path, but it hid in plain sight until a couple of years ago, when Bill the forager added ramps to his must-find collection.

Each year he spends more time tracking them down and eating them up, and now he’s written a guest post guide to them. All I can say is buckle your reading glasses – major ramp treatise ahead.

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