Friday, November 21, 2014

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: Easy Weaning

A stress-free way to wean young calves comes to Heather’s Idaho ranch.

This is what nose flaps look like. This is our heife“Rocket” with her flap in place.
Every year, weaning time is a stress on people and animals.

In nature, without human intervention, calves are weaned by their mothers, who kick them off before the next calf is born.The big calf still follows along and stays with the cow, never losing the comfort and security of her presence. He may still try to nurse for a few days, but the cow won’t let him, and he resigns himself to weaned status.

Calves are very stressed when separated from their mothers, and stress can lead to immune suppression and vulnerability to disease, especially if the stress of weaning is coupled with bad weather or a long transport when newly-weaned calves are sold. It always pays to try to reduce stress on calves, but this can be a challenge sometimes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brooke Dojny: Two Thanks-worthy Twists on Cranberry Sauce

Raw relish or cooked conserve: whatever your cranberry preference, just don’t do “canned.”

Photo © Scott Dorrance
Is there a fruit prettier than cranberries? It’s hard to imagine the fall and winter months without them. Not only do they contribute their delicious tart grace note to our menus, both savory and sweet, but the gorgeous scarlet berries also add natural beauty to our holiday décor. I string cranberries with popcorn to drape on the Christmas tree, float them in shallow glass bowls along with white tea lights, and pour them into tall hurricane lamps around candles.

Cranberries, along with blueberries, are the only two berries native to North America. Algonquin peoples used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for pemmican, and probably introduced them to the starving English settlers in Massachusetts, who then incorporated cranberries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts. Native Americans called the berries “sassamanash” and early Europeans dubbed them “crane berries” because the stamen of the fruit resembles a crane’s beak. Another old name for the fruit was “bounce berries” because of their bouncy quality, and some Cape Codders still call cranberries “bog berries.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Andrea Chesman: A Survey of Squash for the Winter Season

Get to know your squash options and choose the best for your winter dishes.

Assorted winter squash
As fall moves into winter, I’ve been teaching classes on cooking winter vegetables, including winter squash. Even though kale and beets seem to grab all the headlines, winter squash is the most reliable of long-keeping winter vegetables.

In terms of New England sustainability, winter squash may be the most important vegetable we have: it’s easy to grow in this climate, easy to store, and one plant will feed one person for a full season.

There’s a fair amount of writing by colonists suggesting that the pumpkin (which is just another variety of winter squash) was considered “the meanest of God’s blessings.” It got those colonists through the long New England winters all right, but it did get tiresome and uninspiring. One poet wrote:

For pottage and puddings, custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies.
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon;
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Easy Craft Project for Kids: Vine Wreath

Looking for a fun project to keep little hands occupied during holiday decorating season? Give the vine wreath a try!

A wreath handmade by eight-year-old Zoe
Fans of Storey books — especially Storey books for kids — may already be familiar with Nature’s Art Box by Laura C. Martin. Published in 2003, this book of projects for crafty kids still garners new fans, as evidenced by this recent email we received from Susie Chang and her daughter, Zoe, :

Zoe pounced upon this book practically the moment it came in the house. After a suspiciously quiet hour this afternoon, I found her doing this. 
Zoe at work
Tying the wreath

Our Authors, On the Road: November 19–December 2

From succotash to sipping whiskey, Storey authors are passionate about their subjects. Here’s where you’ll find talks, signings, and tastings over the next two weeks.

Lew Bryson hits Pittsburgh with a weekend of whiskey events.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Deborah Balmuth: Fermented Fennel Chutney for Turkey Leftovers

Fennel bulb. Photo © cyclonebill
Over the past weeks at my year-round CSA from Sawyer Farm in Worthington, Massachusetts, I’ve watched the boxes of shiny peppers and eggplants be replaced by big shiny heads of cabbage, hearty daikon radishes, potatoes, onions, leeks, kohlrabi, and fennel bulbs. And every week I’ve filled my bag with the latest crops.

But we haven’t been eating it as fast as we’ve been gathering it and last weekend the cabbage level reached crisis proportions! I opened my copy of Fermented Vegetables and got to work. To my amazement, it wasn’t much work at all: chop the cabbage; add salt, garlic, and spices; massage well (fun — like kneading dough, but less fussy!), put it in the crock and curtido — a Latin American variation of kraut — should be ready by the end of the week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kirsten K. Shockey: Ten Reasons Fermented Vegetables are Beyond Trendy

Full of probiotics and flavor, fermented foods are enjoying a popular culture renaissance. Here are ten good reasons they’re here to stay.

Photo © Erin Kunkel, excerpted from Fermented Vegetables
Fermented foods — including what I used to affectionately call cheese’s much less sexy cousin, sauerkraut — are being touted as a hot (haute) culinary trend. If you are feeling like something fermented for dinner, you are not alone.

Restaurants, and not just funky little healthy restaurants but the places with stars in their ratings and rock star chefs, are serving fermented vegetables as chic menu selections. How-to classes and fermentation festivals are popping up in hip urban areas as well as in tiny towns. And then there is Mitchell Davis, the Executive VP of The James Beard Foundation who said, “Fermentation is a big trend, still growing.”

Over the last few years, my husband Christopher and I have watched this simple old-school process become sexy. We would like to offer the top reasons we believe fermented vegetables have transcended trend and are here to stay.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Recipe for Elderberry Syrup

This cold and flu season, elder flowers and berries are some of the best medicine we have.

Elderberries. Photo ©Andersastphoto/
Elder’s beautiful lacy flowers are diaphoretic, meaning that they induce sweating, thereby helping to lower fevers. Elder’s berries have immune-enhancing properties, and they’re often combined with echinacea in immune-stimulating remedies for colds. The berries also have powerful antiviral properties and so are helpful in treating viral infections including flus, herpes, and shingles. They’re also used for treating upper respiratory infections.

Elderberries make some of the best syrup and wine you’ll ever taste. They also make great jams, jellies, and pies. The flowers are also edible and delicious. One of my favorite ways to eat them is in fritters, dipping the large, flat flower tops just as they’re opening in a light batter, frying, and serving with elderberry jam. There are few better things!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our Authors, On the Road: November 5–18

Tastings, talks, signings, and holiday markets: here’s where you’ll find Storey authors over the next two weeks.

Paula Marcoux delivers an author talk in Kingston, MA, this week.

Thursday, November 6

Saturday, November 8

Monday, November 3, 2014

Amelia Slayton Loftus: Quick Spent-Grain Veggie Burgers

Cooking with spent grain is sustainable, healthy, and thrifty, too.

Spent grains
If you homebrew or have a partner or friend who does, you might be delighted to discover you have access to a free ingredient that is high in protein and fiber and can add delicious flavor and texture to a variety of dishes.

I am talking about spent grain, or brewers’ grains, as they are sometimes called. They are what remains after the sweet sugars have been extracted during the brewing process. Spent grains have a coarse texture similar to cracked wheat, and a sweet, malty flavor. They are most commonly used to make baked goods like cookies and rustic breads, but they’re also great for adding structure and flavor to more savory dishes like chili or veggie burgers.