Archive for the ‘local producers – nearby’ Category

Maple Weekend(s) 2013

maple bucket

Woo-hoo!  It’s maple syrup season again and it is time to stock up on my year’s supply of maple syrup…

We have not one, but TWO weekends to visit area sugar shacks and buy way too much maple syrup.  As the owner of a gallon, I can talk.  Get into your car either March 16-17 or March 23-24 and head out to learn more about maple syrup production and buy direct from the producer.  Information can be found about the NY State Maple Weekends online and on Facebook, but you’ll have to dig a bit to find producers in Columbia County.  They’re here, just not on the list.

Be sure to check out Black Berry Hill Farm out in the Bell’s Pond area (call first please!).

And the Register-Star recently highlighted the production by a Hudson Farmers’ Market favorite Farm at Millers Crossing.

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And then what?

Sometimes I boil a couple of brand-new empty bottles (I like ones that looks like flasks) and then fill them with liquid love to share.  People in warmer climes are appreciative.  However, you know me – I like to eat.

I can recommend the healthy Maple Scones for breakfast or tea.  They’re almost savory, and a co-worker suggested that a glass of bourbon might complement them well.  My thoughts exactly.  I can also strongly recommend this Maple Parsnip cake.  You need to buy almond meal, but between that and the parnips practically melting in the cake, it’s almost better than carrot cake – no cream cheese frosting required.  I served it with whipped cream slightly sweetened with a bit of maple syrup.  Of course.  Olive Oil granola is also a great favorite, as the sweetener is – you guessed it – maple syrup.

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You know what else goes with maple syrup?  BACON.  Have you tried the bacon from Swoon available at Lick the Market?  Good grief, get yourself down there (253 Warren, Friday/Saturday/Sunday) and buy some Swoon Bacon.  Then cook all of it.  And eat.  Don’t even try to save any for later… (Er, no picture available because we ate it all).

(local) beer is worth traveling for…

(Apologies if you are receiving this again.  There have been some technical shenanigans of my own making – my phone and I have had words and it hopefully will not happen again.  A goddess woodchuck hunter helped me restore the content.  Now back to business.)

Traveling for local beer.  Wait, is that a contradiction???

An alumni from my university recently listed his guiding philosophy/quote as this gem from Benjamin Franklin: Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Man after my own heart.

We bought our growlers maybe 6 years ago when sitting at Spotty Dog, drinking various North East beers that they had on tap. Loving the containers in and of themselves, nevermind that they stored beer, we first bought a small one, then soon after bought the large one as well in case we wanted more. What better way to drink beer in the back yard!

A couple of weekends ago, we packed our growler and took the new Hudson-Athens ferry across to Athens.  I’m a little sensitive when on boats and other moving vehicles (I can’t read a map while moving) so I was worried that the ferry trip might not set me up well for a night of drinking.  It was a smooth trip – no fear!  Our goal was Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, a brewery that opened up over a year ago.  If you take the Hudson-Athens ferry across ($10 round trip) on a Friday or Saturday night, you get views like this:

Crossroads has friendly service and a great selection of good beer.  Like them on Facebook to keep up with what they have on tap in a particular week.  Over the winter there was a food truck parked outside serving good food; yesterday they posted that their new kitchen has just opened.  Welcome Chef Paul!  Crossroads is  a couple blocks straight up from the ferry – an easy field trip from Hudson, and it’s so lovely to not drive after a beer (or two).  Their doors are open for you:

If you don’t want to cross the river, you can travel up 66 to visit Chatham Brewing.

Bring your growler during Saturday Growler hours (11am – 5pm most Saturdays, except when they’re out winning awards) and fill ‘er up with whatever they might be brewing that day – like them on FB to keep up with any changes in hours.  Luckily in Hudson, Chatham Brewing has started coming to us on Saturday mornings at the Hudson Farmers’ Market.  Come early for best selection; they often bring a soda as well.  AND, they’ve begun bringing seafood.  What’s better than clams and beer – well, except maybe a Loaf pretzel and beer???   A recent story in the Register-Star indicated that they have just about outgrown their garage just off Main Street and they might have to relo – so stay tuned.

For other little day trips: if you like the C.H. Evans ale that you’ve tried at Spotty Dog, you can go to the source up at the Albany Pump Station.  I’m partial to the Kick-Ass Brown myself.  There’s also Brown’s Brewing Co., a huge brewpub up in Troy (you can also find this beer at Spotty Dog occasionally as well).  Or, in the opposite direction, Keegan Ales is serving up Mother’s Milk and others in Kingston.

Closer to home, I’ve just read that someone is seeking the zoning OK in Red Hook to open a small brewery.  More choices!

But if you want to take a bit of a road trip, I recommend booking yourself a room and traveling out to Cooperstown to visit Brewery Ommegang.  This is one big gorgeous brewing operation.

Try to arrive at the Brewery, just outside of Cooperstown ( approx. 2 hours from Hudson), say, shortly before lunch.  Find out their tour schedule, buy a ticket to the next one, and then be sure to stay for lunch.   The food is well-paired to the beer, and you can do flights so you don’t miss anything.  But to really try all of their beer, stay to the end of the tour where they give you a small glass and you can stand there and taste everything.  By the end the glass might slip out of your hand…

Ommegang set up the operation in this location because in the 19th century, hops was a major crop in the area.  And, there was access to clean water.  While they are a relatively huge operation amongst our local producers, one of the big reasons that I like them is because they have joined in the battle for clean water.  Ommegang is not happy with the possibility of fracking; for more on this subject, read here, here and here.

But you know what I love about beer?  The people who make it have a sense of humor.

They’re brewing men at Crossroads???

They’re just teasing

There has probably been more than one beer emergency…

Need some historical background?  If you’re in NYC between now and early September, be sure to check out Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History at the NY Historical Society.

Remember, Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  With so many upstate beer options we can be very happy!

maple weekend(s) – 2012

Mark your calendars!  New York maple weekends are coming up March 17-18 and 24-25, 2012, 10am-4pm each day.  This is a great opportunity to watch sugaring in action.  To find participating maple producers visit the NY State site, www.mapleweekend.com.  If you are organized enough first thing in the morning you can attend a pancake breakfast – yum!

Pictured is an old-fashioned bucket set up that I found in Rhinebeck this year; more common is the miles of tubing that you might see out in the woods.  It’s kinda cool either way.

Support the maple sugar producers!

and you thought you were just going for a burger…

I wonder if the Grazin’ Family was expecting the hub-bub?  I think not.  But people are talking (about food) and that’s good.

Sam Pratt just posted Comparative Burgerology, comparing the prices of burger and fries combos at a number of area restaurants.  It’s a simple clean comparison of prices. Love the name.

Mentioned is the cost of eating organic versus eating less expensive fast food.  It’s a tough battle, especially as most people are counting their pennies (yes, even the weekenders…).  Mark Bittman, who has gotten much more political about food in the past couple of years, just posted a letter in his opinion column in the New York Times: Hey Chef! Get With the Program!  This letter to chefs from a meat wholesaler addresses the “cost” of cheap modern food and whether those cheap ingredients are worth it.  It makes you pause.

Don’t get me wrong – there are certain processed foods that I just haven’t been able to shake (I have a fixation with unnaturally orange “foods” right now…).  But then if you watch Food Inc. a time or two, you’ll want to chuck everything and move to a farm in Vermont (or, er, Columbia County) and raise your own food.  This film features the input of Michael Pollan (a chief food rabble-rouser), Joel Salatin and Eric Schlosser, among others.

Slow Food USA is “Supporting Good, Clean and Fair Food”, expanding the conversation in so many directions (like, will the new Girl Scouts Locavore Badge affect the cookies?!?!?).

Closer to home, the Etsy blog did a feature on someone bringing food production home with Breaking Local Bread: Wild Hive Farm.   Don Lewis brought wheat production, milling, baking back to the Hudson Valley Wild Hive Cafe/Bakery/Farm/Etc. because he thought it could be done, tastes better and is better.  (They mill a lovely polenta as well.)  Toward the end of the piece, with small smile, the Don sums up his work with two very powerful words: Bread Power.

Food is politics and you are voting with every bite you eat.

milk (Ronnybrook Farm) on film

The Big Table, the first episode of a documentary on food production,  features the Ronnybrook Farm dairy operation in Ancramdale.  It debuted at the wrap-up of the NYC Food Film Festival last weekend.   It quietly focused on the life of a farm family producing milk.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

I couldn’t swing the film fest, but I will continue to add their milk (from re-usable glass bottles) to my coffee and eat their delicious ice cream when I am too lazy to make my own…

A very enlightening article on milk came out recently in Mother Earth News online, “The Astonishing Story of Real Milk”.  I strongly recommend it should you have any questions about the dairy industry or the milk you drink.

Then think of the Ronnybrook family and their cows.

sheep & wool fest AND it’s cider week

It is supposed to stop raining tomorrow…  What are you going to do?

Image courtesy of sheep & wool fest site

Head south on 9 to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck and visit the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival 2011.  It is amazing.  It will help if you like yarn.  And sheep.  And all wooly things in between.  The colors and textures of the fluff and roving and yarn are gorgeous.  Since I really only do a rudimentary crochet (lots of afghans in my house), I really go for the sheep or goat people that sell cheese…  Take the kids, meet the animals and if you’re lucky the chicken pot pie people will be there – get in line early, before they run out.

Starting Sunday, October 16 and running through the week, it’s Cider Week!  This is a new effort to keep the apple industry alive.  I love it when the call to action is Join the Hard Cider Revival!  They even have a friendly Find Cider list which includes several fine establishments in Hudson.

  • NYS Sheep and Wool Festival
  • Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck NY
  • Saturday October 15 – Sunday October 16
  • Tickets available at the gate
  • Cider Week
  • Hudson Valley
  • October 16 – 23

apple season, already

William H. Martin. A Load of Good Iowa Apples. 1909

I love this recent MoMA Five for Friday, highlighting 5 works from the MoMA collection.  I always love me a good food theme.

The apple farms got hit hard by Hurricane Irene, since trees heavy with almost ripe fruit standing in completely saturated soil were very easily toppled during the storm.  We are well into the midst of picking season, so if there’s a day where it will just stop raining, I highly recommend getting yourself out to a nearby orchard.  Availability can change so it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure they still are open for U-Pick.  Here are a few good options:

Love Apple Farm

Don Baker Farm

Fix Bros Farm

Golden Harvest Farm – HUGE bonus: a micro distillery

I’ve been in denial for weeks.  You know what apple season means, right?  Winter is next.  Sigh.

So if you’re smart you’re going to put away some of those apples for later in the season.  The first thing that I make is a very simple applesauce.  It’s worth pulling out the dutch oven to make a batch or two and to stick a couple of jars in the freezer.  I probably post this recipe every year:

Applesauceadapted from Joy of Cooking

Place in a large, heavy skillet or saucepan:

3 pounds cooking apples, peeled if desired, cored, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1/2 – 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, depending on juiciness of apples
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, depending on tartness of apples
1 large cinnamon stick

Cover and simmer, stirring often, over low heat using tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes (maybe longer).  Stir in:

Scant 1/2 cup white or turbinado sugar or 6 tablespoons mild honey  (I use local honey)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional – but use it)
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional – good thing, since I never have it)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cook, stirring, until the sweetener is dissolved and blended, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Discard the cinnamon stick.  For chunky applesauce, break up the apples with a wooden spoon.  For medium texture, crush with a potato masher.  For smooth sauce, pass it through a food mill or coarse sieve.

Serve warm or chilled.  Great on greek yogurt.

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I usually don’t put in all the apple peel into my applesauce; just a little for color. Maybe if I had chickens I wouldn’t feel so guilty about throwing away all that peel.  At the very end of the season last year I found this (very relaxed) recipe requiring apple peel.  You might get a chance to try it before I do – if so, tell me how it goes!

Apple Peel Jellyfrom craftster.org

To make the jelly I took the peels and cores from 5 apples (I used cortland) and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. I boiled this for about 10 minutes. This part smelled sooo good! Then I poured the mix through a colander to strain out the chunks. I got about 2 cups of pretty pink liquid. I poured this back into my pot, stirred in a cup of sugar, a little bit of cinnamon and set it to boil. Then I put my candy thermometer in the liquid and waited for it to reach 220F (which is where the thermometer said ‘jelly’). After that, I poured it into an empty sauce jar. The 2 cups of liquid boiled down to around a cup. And there you have it, apple cinnamon jelly!

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What else can you do with apples?  Make lots of galettes.  Or crisps.  Or crumbles. What about a Dutch apple pancake???

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If you prefer to drink your apples, check out the Hudson Valley Cider Route created by The Apple Project.  There will be a Cider Week (“join the hard cider revival”) October 16 – 23.  I’m game!

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