Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sipping Chocolate from Trader Joe's
This rich chocolate drink is amazingly better than any hot chocolate I have ever had. Most hot chocolate is too sweet and too thin. But this chocolate is deep, dark, and lightly sweet. Add it to hot whole milk, and you have the perfect winter drink.
Atkins Vanilla Caramel in Dark Chocolate
Something happens in the holiday season, and I invariably start craving caramels. I tried making them once, but I didn't pay enough attention to them and they didn't quite work out the way I had hoped. This year I found my happiness at Atkins Farms in their candy department in the form of vanilla caramels wrapped in dark chocolate. One of these satisfies a caramel/chocolate craving. Two of these brings a smile to my face.
Fresh Gingerbread with Hot Orange Sauce
This can't be purchased -- it must be made from scratch and eaten warm. Don't skimp on the spices in the gingerbread, and definitely don't skimp on the orange sauce -- smother the gingerbread with it and you won't be sorry. Delightful.
Treats for the season. Comfort foods for the darkness and cold. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I did a little research on the topic and then filed the information away for future reference.
That future came a few weeks ago when my husband came home from a farmer's market and started telling me about how raw milk had been recommended to him by someone else who was lactose intolerant but had no problems drinking raw milk. We did a little more research, had a bit of discussion, and decided we needed to try it.
There are a number of small dairies in Massachusetts that sell raw milk, and one of them, Flayvors of Cook Farm, happens to be right on my shopping route. So I made a visit to Cook Farms to put my name on the raw milk list (it is only available by pre-order), and I waited just under a week before picking up my first fresh gallon. We went through that gallon (just the two of us) in about 4 days -- and that was holding back; we've had to order more for subsequent weeks. I find it delicious, my husband can drink it without consequence, and it works wonderfully in recipes. (I'm looking forward to making authentic buttermilk with it one of these days.)
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized -- milk that has not been heated to 160+ degrees in order to kill bacteria that can be found in the milk. The lack of heating helps it retain its natural vitamin content, enzymes, and amino acids. It is whole milk, and therefore higher in fat content (4.0% butterfat at Cook), which in my opinion just makes it taste better (I love a little cream, don't you?).
Raw milk is available at Flayvors of Cook Farm for $5/gallon or $2.75/half-gallon, day-of fresh on Mondays & Fridays.
More information about raw milk and where you can buy it in Massachusetts can be found on the NOFA (Northeast Farming Assocation) website.
Milk -- it does a body good! -- and this stuff is SO good, it does a body even better!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Where to Find School Closings for Belchertown, Amherst, Hadley, Ware, Palmer, Granby, and other local areas.
The links on this post are especially useful if you don't have cable access or if you don't want to wait while the cancellations scroll on and on and on.
Enjoy the winter!
PS -- I've added bunches of new events to the calendar. See below.
Today's winter picture: one of our male cardinals. I love when the male and female come together, which they sometimes do in the evenings. I like to think they're on a date, trying out the new cuisine at The Deck Feeder, the new hotspot in town....
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Haven't seen the parakeet in a while, though my husband says it came by for a visit earlier this week.
And as I write this, a wintry mix has started falling from the grey sky. Time to curl up with a good book.
(Bird pictures coming later.)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Whole Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Apples
1 medium pumpkin
6 small red apples
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
- Wash and dry the pumpkin. Carve a circle around the stem and open the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and pulp (roasted seeds are awfully good!). Brush the outside of the pumpkin with vegetable oil.
- Wash and dry the apples. Core them. Spoon a teaspoon of maple syrup into each apple, then place the apples upright inside the pumpkin. Spoon two teaspoons of maple syrup over the apples. Replace the pumpkin top.
- Put the pumpkin on the prepared cookie sheet and put it in the oven. Bake until the pumpkin and the apples are tender (1.5-2 hours).
- When the pumpkin is done, remove from the oven. Remove the top and take out the apples. Slice the pumpkin into 6 slices. Serve the pumpkin with a baked apple and maple syrup.
Penner, Lucille Recht. Eating the Plates: a Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
Do you know anyone who has lost a parakeet recently?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Baku's African Restaurant is on North Pleasant Street in Amherst. A small restaurant featuring no more than five tables and seventeen chairs. We had passed it by many times on our to and from the Toy Box, frequently commenting that we should actually stop and try it -- one of these days. "One of these days" finally arrived a few weekends ago, on a warm and damp Halloween night.
Baku's features southern Nigerian cuisine, and its small menu lists appetizers and meals in variations of rice, beans, meats, and vegetables. The menu is gluten, dairy, and dessert free, representing the traditional diet of the African region. The owner and head chef is also authentically Nigerian, a great cook, and quite a character.
When we arrived at Baku's, a group from Connecticut was just finishing, leaving the restaurant all to us. We took the menus from the counter, consulted with each other on our meals, and ordered back at the counter, paying when the order was complete. Water was served, our drinks were delivered, and small salads presented to occupy us while our food was being prepared. Our meals arrived quickly: the Flavorful Lamb entree -- stewed lamb in a rich curry tomato sauce over jollof rice -- and the house special Curry Chicken. Delicious. The lamb was succulent and tender and the sauce was just as not-spicy as I had asked. The curry chicken was also good, but a touch dry. After eating ourselves full, there was still plenty to take home -- which I packaged up to take to work.
The meals at Baku's are simple but savory and range from $10.95-$13.95 for a dinner entree, with appetizers and small plates starting at $3.95. The kids menu stands at $5.95 and family meals begin at $29.95 for 3 people. Baku's also caters events and delivers through Delivery Express.
Baku's has been open since 2005 and attracts customers from all over -- and when you try their home-cooked food, you'll understand why.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
My condolences to the Director and Staff of the Library, the Friends, the Trustees, and all those who volunteered time and money toward the Clapp for Community Campaign -- and also to the entire town -- half of which does not even recognize the importance and worth of what they lost last night in failing to invest in the future of the town.
At about 8:40 a motion was made that further discussion end and the vote be taken. This motion passed, and the vote was made; a 2/3 vote was required to pass. The vote was vocal, and the Moderator declared that the Nos won, but a recount was demanded, and this time the vote was made and counted by raised ballot. The Nos carried the win with ~480 votes; the Yeses had just over 400. More than 100 people in the gymnasium did not vote.
Emotions were high, and there were more than a few tears at the close of the evening. However, according to the Clapp for Community website, the campaign for an upgraded and expanded building will continue, and I can only hope that success is found. Having a strong library is a powerful benefit to the community -- it supports education, finance, business, growth, recreation, families, individuals, adults, children, and more. I'm saddened and sorry that more of the residents of Belchertown could not see their way to improving their town by supporting the expanded library, and I wish luck and hope to the Clapp Memorial Library as it seeks alternatives.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Next Tuesday evening (no school the following day) is a Special Town Meeting for the vote on the project. Educate yourself about the project at the forum tomorrow night and/or by visiting the Clapp for Community website.
The November newsletter from CfC related information about the combining of two Town Meeting Articles into one. Read this to see what you'll be voting on next week.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Be on the lookout tonight, if you're out and about. There will be haunts, and ghouls, and trick-or-treaters in the streets.
Dickinson Farms, Sapowsky's Farm Stand, and King Creek Farm all close this weekend. Dickinson's will reopen in November for the holidays and King Creek will reopen in December when their next batch of grass-fed beef comes in.
Don't forget to change your clocks tonight -- we end daylight savings time and "gain" an hour!
FYI -- if you have questions about the library project, there will be a public forum on Tuesday evening in the auditorium at Town Hall at 7pm. The special town meeting and vote will be on Nov 10 at the high school.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
King Creek Farm (also on Facebook) is located on Rt 9 in Ware on the Belchertown side and is open Friday through Sunday. Their featured product is their beef, which is 100% grass-fed -- not finished with corn. They also carry pastured pork, eggs, and a variety of seasonal vegetables, flowers, cider, cheeses, sauces, salsas, honey, syrup, Pierce Brothers coffee, and home-baked bread. My husband has been the go-to guy for that farm, stopping in on his way to work and picking up beef, squash, donuts, and even our holiday pumpkin; my first visit didn't happen until 2 weeks ago, on Columbus Day weekend.
The first striking thing about KCF is the setting. Located at the top of a hill, it overlooks fields, pastures, wooded areas, and more hills. A spectacular view -- especially in the autumn. The farm itself has been around since the 1800's, and was purchased by the current owners in 2004. Since then the farm has been completely renovated, and it is now clean, bright, and welcoming (be sure to check out the pictures at the farm stand about the renovations).
We went on a Saturday morning when the barn was also going to be open for their barn sale. Our first stop was at the farm stand itself to see the vegetables, meat, and other available products. They were colourful, bright, well-arranged, and plentiful -- I would have happily walked out with a car-ful.
The day was nice, so we took a few minutes to enjoy the rocking chairs on the farmer porch before heading off to check out the chickens.
After our chicken visit we went to the barn -- I'm a sucker for barn sales, antique sales, tag sales. The barn was stocked from floor to ceiling with everything imaginable -- coats, dishes, games, toys, antique stoves, armoires, kitchen gadgets, liniments, clothes, books, decorations, windows, buttons, milk bottles, pewter pieces, suitcases, jewelry -- and even a string bass.
We had a delightful visit, and I highly recommend the farm and its goods.
The King Creek Farm website offers information about the farm, current produce available, barn sale dates, info on raw milk, and even tips on how to cook grass-fed beef. If you get on their e-mailing list, you will be privy to updated food availabilities and recipes (see below for this week's recipe).
KCF is located at 337 Belchertown Rd, Route 9, Ware, Massachusetts 01082
**Pictures in this post are courtesy of our Columbus Day Arizona guest, who remembered her camera when I forgot mine.**
1 pound bulk mild sausage
12 ounces kale
2 tablespoons water
1 cup mushroom caps, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups white beans
1 14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
Shape sausage into 1-inch balls. Arrange sausage balls in a single layer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until brown on all sides. Remove sausage from skillet and drain. Remove any fat left in skillet.
Meanwhile, remove center stalks from kale; discard stalks. Coarsely chop kale (should have about 16 cups). Add kale and water to skillet; cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until kale is just tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes more. Add sausage, beans, and vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until kale is very tender.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
November 10 is the date of the special town meeting for Clapp Memorial Library expansion project. This meeting that will help decide the future of the Clapp Library, so it is vitally important that Belchertown residents take the opportunity to participate in this meeting. The Library is a fundamental part of the Belchertown community -- its history and its future -- and this is a significant moment for both the Library and the town. The two main issues for the special town meeting are the transfer of ownership of the library to the town and the possibility of the town issuing bonds to help pay for the expansion. Come, listen, ask questions, learn about the project, and cast your vote.
Tuesday, November 10, 7:00pm
Belchertown High School
For more information about the special town meeting or about the expansion project, visit Clapp for Community FAQs.
See also this article from the Republican on MassLive: Clapp Library Meeting Booked
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On the calendar for the week is the Belchertown Library Book Sale -- 50,000 books for sale, with videos, comics, and more -- with most items costing only a dollar. That $1!
This weekend there is the Fall Foliage Walk starting from the Amherst Town Common.
The farmers markets in Belchertown and Amherst are both still on this week.
If you're looking for more to do, check out some of the following links:
Five College Events Calendar: http://calendar.fivecolleges.edu/FiveCol/calendrome.cgi
Pioneer Valley Entertainment Links: http://www.filbert.com/PVFS/events.htm
Valley Advocate Music Listings: http://www.valleyadvocate.com/events.cfm?uid=59
There's always a lot to do -- don't despair just because the majority of the fairs and festivals have been put away for another year. Find something fun -- and do it!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
"Direct from a triumphant off-Broadway run at the Irish Repertory Theater: don't miss this rare opportunity to see fine actors perform this riveting drama directed by Vincent Dowling, former Artistic Director of Ireland's National Theater, the Abbey Theatre of Dublin!" (from the EHSCC website)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Music begins tonight at Chestnut Hill School at 5pm, to be followed by fireworks at 7:30. And don't forget the parade on Saturday that runs through the center of town!
For more info, see the Fair insert in this week's paper.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Catch & release fly fishing is allowed year round. Visit this link for more information.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Where do you buy the best local corn of the season? Let us know in the comments below!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Pioneer Valley Therapeutic Riding Association is continually looking for volunteers, and are currently looking for volunteers for their fall season. Horse knowledge is useful, but not necessary. Visit http://www.pvtra.com for a volunteer form. For more information and contact info, visit http://pioneervalleytra.org/. This is a great opportunity to volunteer a few hours of your time to make somebody's life a little better!
The Trustees of the Clapp Memorial Library are seeking citizens interested in serving on the Building Committee for the proposed library expansion plan. Send a letter with a brief statement identifying your expertise and interest by September 4 to:
Clapp Memorial Library
PO Box 627
Belchertown, MA 01007
You can read the full announcements in this week's paper -- at home or online.