Beans And Sausages, Two Ways

When my daily routine leaves little time for preparing dinner, I often raid my pantry and freezer for ingredients to create a quick and easy weeknight meal. Recently, I’ve prepared Beans And Sausages, Two Ways…both using canned beans and fully cooked sausages which make dinner a cinch. Each one dish meal is easy, satisfying and delicious. I believe either dish would be very welcomed by those sitting around your own kitchen table.

Cannellini Beans With Brown Butter Fried Sage And Chicken Sausage

Cannellini Beans With Sage, Brown Butter And Chicken Sausage

The first dish is creamy cannellini beans cooked with lots of fresh herbs, then topped with roasted garlic chicken sausages, browned butter and fried sage leaves for a very flavorful Tuscan inspired meal. You will also find similar dishes on French and British tables.

Cannellini Beans With Sage, Brown Butter And Sausage

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 large sage leaves, cut in half
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 (3 oz. each) sausages, I used fully cooked roasted garlic and herb chicken sausages
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. each of chopped fresh parsley, sage and thyme
  • 1 tsp. of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed or 4 c. cooked white beans of your choice
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese (optional)

Melt butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat, add sage leaves and cook stirring occasionally until butter is brown (do not burn) and leaves are crisp. Place the sage leaves on a paper towel and reserve the brown butter.

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and brown the sausages on all sides. Remove the sausages and keep warm until ready to serve.

Add the onions to the same pot and cook until soft, then add the garlic, chopped parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and cook for a minute. Add the chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Add the beans, season with salt, pepper and red pepper, if using. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes. Mash a few of the beans with the side of a spoon and continue to cook until the beans are very soft and the mixture is a little creamy.

To serve, cut the sausages part way through and put pieces of the fried sage leaves in the cut. Place beans in individual serving bowls, drizzle with the reserved brown butter and top with a sausage. If you wish, serve grated cheese with the beans for additional flavor.

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Andouille Sausage With Red Beans

Andouille Sausage With Red Beans And Rice

The second dish is prepared with small red beans and mildly spicy, smoked Andouille pork sausage. This is a Cajun dish inspired by the New Orleans classic red beans and rice often eaten for lunch on Mondays in this and other Louisiana cities. Andouille sausage is also featured in Cajun and Creole dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya.

Andouille Sausage With Red Beans And Rice

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 oz. Andouille sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 or 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 c. ham stock (chicken broth may be substituted)
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans small red beans, rinsed or 4 c. cooked red beans of your choice
  • several sprigs each of fresh thyme and parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Tabasco, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp.  more or less, Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. more or less, smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked rice for serving with the beans
  • chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onion for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a pot, add sausage and brown. Add the celery, onion and bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ham stock and beans, stir well. Add the next 6 ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the beans are very soft. For a creamy consistency, mash some of the beans with the side of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Remove the bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs before serving.

To serve, mound some rice into individual serving bowls, cover with a generous helping of the beans and garnish with chopped parsley or sliced green onions. Serve with addition tabasco at the table for those who want a spicier dish.

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Variations of either recipe can be made to suit your preferences or the ingredients you happen to have on hand. If you have time, you can make both of these dishes using dried beans that you have soaked and slowly cooked until tender. In that case, use about two cups of cooked beans for each can of beans called for in the recipes.

Whether you cook beans from scratch or use canned ones for convenience, beans are a nutritious, tasty and inexpensive ingredient on which to base a meal. It is no wonder that beans are a staple for people all around the world who rely upon them to provide a meal for their families that is healthy and satisfying.

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How To Have A Barn Or Yard Sale

It is the season for barn and yard sales in New England. Instead of outdoor barbecues or trips to the beach, fall is the time of the year when people like to take a ride along the back country roads. Savvy New Englanders know this and we spend days going through our basement, closets and garage looking for stuff we want to get rid of. We wait for the perfect day or weekend when the “leaf peepers” will be out enjoying the fall color and we Have A Barn Sale. 

The Beautiful Fall Colors Of New England

The Beautiful Fall Colors Of New England

Like all of you, I have accumulated lots of things over the years that I don’t use anymore. If you are like me and need to declutter your life, think about having a barn or yard sale. You may not make a lot of money but you will make space in your home by selling things you no longer use to people who will enjoy them.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, check with your town to see if you need a permit or if there are any rules in your community regarding having a sale. I have a long driveway with plenty of parking but if you have limited space, talk with your neighbors to let them know what you are planning. They might ask if they could join you with a table of their own things.

Plan your sale well in advance, trying to avoid any days when an event will be held that would keep people away. It’s great if you can coordinate your sale with a “town wide yard sale” in your area. I did that and I found that Saturday was a lot busier than Sunday.

I asked buyers what brought them to my sale and most said it was the signs. I made mine using 15 by 19 inch white corrugated plastic and vinyl lettering that were easy to read from a distance. It rained during my sale but the weather didn’t harm any of my signs. If I had used paper, they would have buckled and been impossible to read. Remember to take down the signs at the end of your sale or you will have disappointed buyers after you close.

Think of advertising in the newspaper, on Facebook and on internet sites like craigslist. With craigslist, you can add 24 photos which will give people an idea of what you are selling. You can start a month in advance…updating the ads every two days. If you have any unique items, be sure to provide as much information about them as possible.

Before selling items that may have some real value, check on sites such as eBay and etsy to see if you have a real treasure. If so, you might want to try placing them in an antique shop on consignment.

When it comes to pricing, remember an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, not what you originally purchased it for. Put price tags on everything and include a description when you think it might be helpful. If you enjoy haggling or expect everyone will be offering you less than what you want, price things accordingly.

I decided to sell everything in whole dollar amounts and nothing under a dollar as I didn’t want to have to deal with coins. To make change, I started out with five $10’s, six $5’s, and twenty $l’s that I kept in my pocket. I kept my cellphone in another pocket to use as a calculator or if needed in an emergency.

It is important to have everything ready the day before your sale as you may have early buyers waiting for you to open on the morning of the sale. I believe organizing the items in pretty displays makes it easier to sell them for your asking price. I had many shoppers say how neat and clean everything was…that it was like shopping in a little store. They also mentioned they loved being in our historic barn with its lingering aromas of hay and apples while they looked for a few bargains. What they found were some great deals on furniture, collectables, housewares, and seasonal decorations.

Having a barn sale is a lot of hard work but just know that you will be decluttering your life and meeting a lot of nice people in the process. Items you no longer want will be irresistible to someone else and they will happily give them a new home. What doesn’t sell can be boxed up and given to charity. It is like a fairytale where “they all lived happily ever after”.

 

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Portsmouth, A Picturesque New England Town

Originally settled in 1623, Portsmouth is a Picturesque New England Town located along the western bank of the Piscataqua River that divides New Hampshire and Maine. When you walk down the brick sidewalks of Portsmouth, passing historic Colonial, Federal and Georgian houses that edge its narrow streets, you will understand why Forbes Traveler magazine listed Portsmouth as one of “America’s Prettiest Towns”.

The North Church Steeple Can Be Seem From Many Parts of Downtown Portsmouth

The North Church Steeple Can Be Seem From Most Of Historic Downtown Portsmouth

If you are thinking about visiting Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the future, I thought you might be interested in what my husband and I like to call our “A Tour” when we have out of town guests staying with us that want to see Portsmouth for the first time.

I suggest starting the day at Market Square. Typical of many of New England’s town squares, the beautiful historic North Church is the focal point of the square with its tall white steeple which can be seen from most of the historic part of the city.

The Historic North Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Historic North Church On Market Square In Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Breaking New Grounds' Sign At Market Square

Breaking New Grounds’ Sign At Market Square

Breaking New Grounds, across the street from the North Church, beckons you to start your day with a hot cup of coffee. Step inside the corner store and you are immediately welcomed with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. While you are waiting in line, try to decide on which one of the wonderful coffees you want to sample. You will also be tempted by the display cases that are filled with delicious pastries. Oh go ahead, a piece of pastry will give you energy before you start your exploration of the town. If it is a nice day, I suggest you take your purchases and head for one of the tables outside. You can admire the architecture of the buildings from the 1800’s and watch the world as it passes by your table.

Tempting Pastries In The Counters Of Breaking New Grounds

Tempting Pastries In The Counters Of Breaking New Grounds

Rows Of Bicycles Parked Along Market Square

Rows Of Bicycles Parked Along Market Square

While sitting outside on a pretty day, you can’t help but notice the large groups of bicycles, scooters and motorcycles that are always parked along the street and sidewalk. The square is where all the action is…you will see a mixed group of locals, tourists and usually a number of students from the nearby University of New Hampshire that all like to hang out here. You almost feel like you could be in one of the old neighborhoods of nearby Boston but without all the crowds.

Nice Looking Indian Motorcycle Parked On The Street At Market Square

Nice Looking Indian Motorcycle Parked On The Street At Market Square

You are at the energetic heart of the quaint downtown. Head out from the square towards Bow, Ceres, Market, Pleasant, Daniel, Congress, or Penhallow streets and you will find stately brick Federalist stores and townhouses that have been converted into a mixture of upscale boutiques, quirky gift shops, art and craft galleries that feature works by local artists. You will also find brew pubs, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants with water views. After exploring this area, head towards the waterfront.

Historic Timberframe Warehouse

Historic Sheafe Warehouse

Portsmouth, in the prospering 18th and 19th centuries, was known as one of the nation’s busiest ports and shipbuilding centers in our country. Timber framed  warehouses once lined its shoreline to accommodate cargo ships anchored in the harbor. Today, only two of the historic warehouses remain. One is the Sheafe warehouse, which was built in 1705. It was designed so that the shallow draft gundalows could easily transfer cargo between the warehouses and the ships anchored in the harbor.

The Piscataqua

The Piscataqua

You can sail on the Piscataqua, a reproduction gundalow, like the ones that were very prevalent on the river years ago. You will find it up tied up against the dock on the river, located behind Prescott Park.

Look out across the river from here and you will see the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard which specializes in the retrofitting of the U.S. submarine fleet. Over the years, both the states of New Hampshire and Maine have claimed that the shipyard was in their state but it took the U.S. Supreme Court to decide that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard belonged to the state of Maine.

In the same area of the waterfront, you will now find the city’s pretty 10 acre waterfront Prescott Park where the warehouses and other derelict buildings once stood.

Prescott Park Filled With Flowerbeds, Sculpture and Benches Under The Shade Trees

Prescott Park Filled With Flowerbeds, Sculpture and Benches Under The Shade Trees

Depending on the time of year you visit the park, you might be able to attend one of the very popular food or beer festivals, plays or concerts that might be scheduled. The park is filled with interesting sculptures and colorful flowerbeds that change with the seasons. You will find benches throughout the park so that you can relax and enjoy the views of the river. I believe you will enjoy watching as tugboats, tankers, barges, yachts and other watercraft make their way in the swiftly moving waters of the Piscataqua River.

Walk across the street from the park and you will discover Strawbery Banke. The area is considered the oldest neighborhood in New Hampshire, settled by European colonists in 1630. It is also the earliest remaining neighborhood in the city of Portsmouth. The area got its name from wild strawberries that were part of the surrounding landscape.

The Goodwin Mansion, Strawbery Banke

The Goodwin Mansion, Strawbery Banke

This part of Portsmouth is now known as the Strawbery Banke Museum, a 10 acre outdoor history museum that has a collection of 40 restored buildings built between the 17th and 19th centuries in either Colonial, Georgian, or Federal style architecture. Ten of the houses that you can visit are furnished with historic interiors. You will get a chance to see how homes evolved and were used for everyday life from the 1600’s to 1954. This area of Portsmouth was saved from imminent destruction when it was considered for urban renewal.

The Gardens Of The Goodwin Mansion At Strawbery Banke

The Gardens Of The Goodwin Mansion At Strawbery Banke

Historic Homes At The Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampire

Historic Homes At The Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

You can spend several hours in Strawbery Banke on your own self guided tour of the buildings and period gardens. Seasonal events, tours and demonstrations are also held around major holidays.

I believe the Christmas season is a particularly pretty time to visit. The grounds are lit with candle lanterns and the houses are filled with live greens and handmade decorations.  You are greeted by costumed docents who explain the traditions from simpler times.  If you get cold, you can warm up by an outdoor bonfire and listen to carolers singing holiday songs. You can also warm up with a cup of hot apple cider from the Cider Shed.

Once you have learned about the tools and skills needed to build these historic homes, leave the museum and walk through neighborhood streets that date back to the 17th century. You will see evidence of the town’s previous wealth as you admire the fine architecture details of its beautiful homes.

Explore The Narrow Streets  Of Portsmouth To See Fine Examples Of The Beautiful Architecture

Explore The Narrow Streets Of Portsmouth To See Fine Examples Of The Beautiful Architecture

Annabelle's Ice Cream

Annabelle’s All Natural Ice Cream

By now, your feet are probably tired and you are thinking about food. If you want a snack, try Annabelle’s Ice Cream on Ceres Street next to the waterfront. They have lots of flavors to choose from, including their famous New Hampshire pure maple walnut. My favorite is ginger or as New Englanders say, “ginga”. You can walk a short distance down the street and enjoy your ice cream at the newly built picnic area and admire the tugboats that help ships and barges navigate the swift waters of the Portsmouth harbor.

Tugboats That Help The Ships Navigate The Swift Water As They Come In And Out Of Portsmouth Harbor

Tugboats That Help The Ships Navigate The Swift Water As They Come In And Out Of Portsmouth Harbor

Seafood Pad Sha

Seafood Pad Sha Served At Five Thai Bistro

If it is lunchtime, you might want to try Five Thai Bistro. It is located around the corner from the North Church on Pleasant Street. The restaurant is open every day for both lunch and dinner. It is a simply decorated restaurant with friendly service and very good food. They always have a few specials listed on the blackboard over the bar along with their regular menu. You might want to do what my husband and I do and order a special along with items from the regular menu such as  Steamed Chicken Dumplings, Deluxe Pad Thai and Seafood Pad Sha and share all the deliciousness.

If you want to know my recommendation for dinner, it is the Black Trumpet.

Black Trumpet Bistro Will Certainly Please A Foodie

Black Trumpet Bistro Will Certainly Please A Foodie

I am sometimes hesitant to mention one of my favorite places to eat knowing that once everyone finds out about it, it will be hard to get a reservation. The Black Trumpet is already one of the most talked about restaurants in Portsmouth so all of us need to make reservations well in advance. If you are a foodie, you will enjoy the inventive food of Chef Evan Mallett. He was a James Beard semifinalist for the Best Chef of the Northeast.

Chef Evan Works In Tight Quarters But Produces Delicious Food

Chef Evan Mallett Works In Tight Quarters But Produces Delicious Food

The chef owned bistro and wine bar is located in a 200 year old building that was once a ship’s chandlery on Ceres Street. The main dining room, with a front window that looks out at the river, is small with low ceilings, hand hewn beams, with brick and stone walls. If dining before dark, you might want to ask for a table upstairs in the small wine bar that has a nice view of the harbor. Chef Mallett changes his menu frequently. The simple but delicious   Mediterranean inspired dishes feature fresh seasonal ingredients sourced from the local waters and farms in the area. Everything we have ever ordered has been delicious.

Even though the restaurant is known as a casual bistro, the restaurant is where we go when we want to entertain guests or to celebrate a special occasion as we know the meals will be memorable. Dining at the Black Trumpet would be a nice way to end your day of exploring historic Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is a compact and very walkable town that buzzes with energy. Whether you enjoy live music venues, the theater, good brew pubs or great restaurants, Portsmouth  has a lot to offer residents of New Hampshire as well as visitors from around the world. What more could anyone want from a picturesque New England town. I hope you get a chance to visit someday and that my suggestions will be helpful.

 

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Italian Stuffed Peppers

Sunday dinner at the home of an Italian American family is all about keeping food traditions alive. My husband likes to call the meal “a Sunday feast”.  We often start the meal with a large antipasto platter. This classic is always popular, as each person sitting at the table can choose exactly what they like from a platter arranged with cheese, sliced meats, fresh and roasted vegetables. One item I like to serve on the platter is Italian Stuffed Peppers,  a favorite with both my friends and family.

Italian Stuffed Peppers As Part Of An Antipasto

An  Individual Antipasto Plate Featuring A Stuffed Italian Pepper, Marinated Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella With Fresh Basil, Olives, Hot Capicola, Genoa Salami And Provolone Cheese

The peppers, stuffed with a savory mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese, olives, capers and fresh herbs, are roasted in the oven and then served at room temperature. The stuffed peppers are great for entertaining as they can be prepared a day in advance…their flavors actually improving. Served cold or at room temperature the next day, the stuffed peppers are terrific as part of a large antipasto or as a side dish to your main meal.

 Italian Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4, depending on the size of the peppers. Adjust the recipe accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • 4 Italian Frying Peppers*, tops and seeds removed
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced  (I used two)
  • 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 3/4 c. toasted bread crumbs (I like to make my own but store bought is fine)
  • handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used oregano, basil and parsley from my garden)
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped black olives
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a splash of white wine

To prepare the breadcrumbs, heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy paste. Sauté for about 30 seconds, then add the chicken broth, stir until the anchovy paste is dissolved then remove the pan from the heat to cool. Once the oil and garlic mixture has cooled, add the crumbs to the pan, along with the herbs, grated Pecorino Romano, olives, capers and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together until well combined and a handful can hold together. If too dry add a little extra vinegar. Taste and adjust the season, if necessary.

Stuff the breadcrumbs into the peppers but not too tightly. Lay the peppers on their side in a lightly oiled casserole dish just large enough for them to fit in a single layer. Drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil and add a splash of white wine. Cover the dish  with foil and bake the peppers for about 25 to 30 minutes until the peppers are tender. Let cool and serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until ready to use the next day.

*I grow Italian peppers in my garden each year. I’ve grown both Corno Di Toro Rossa and Marconi but when the growing season is over, I make this dish with peppers that I buy from my local store. Peppers similar to what I grow may be called Italian Frying Peppers, Italianelles, or Cubanelles. They are long, pale green peppers that are sweet, tender and have a thin skin.

**You can double the breadcrumb recipe and store any leftover crumbs in an airtight container in the refrigerator as they are delicious used for stuffing other vegetables or as a nice topping for pasta.

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Stuffed vegetables such as these Italian peppers have always been popular not only in Italy but also in other countries where people have relied on making breadcrumbs from stale bread. Using the breadcrumbs is an economical and savory way to stretch a few fresh vegetables, turning them into filling main  course or a side dish to feed their family. Besides serving the stuffed peppers as an appetizer, they are a nice accompaniment to a simple meal of grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish. Buon Appetito!

 

 

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Things Aren’t Always Rosy

Things Aren’t Always Rosy if you are a farmer trying to raise crops or a gardener who enjoys having a vegetable or flower garden. Even if you are neither a farmer or gardener, you have probably seen in the news that some people have had to deal with drought, fires, floods, hail and even early snow this year. Thankfully while we are not facing any of those kind of troubles, things aren’t rosy here at our New England farm.

New Dawn Rose Climbing Rose

Last Year’s New Dawn Climbing Roses

Over the past years, my husband and I have seen our property and orchard have its ups and downs depending on the weather each year here in New Hampshire. I thought you might be interested in seeing how the past harsh winter, the wet cold spring and a cooler than normal summer have all affected our orchard and garden.

You may understand why the old nursery rhyme “there was a little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead…when she was good, she was very, very good“, has me thinking about Mother Nature. Unfortunately the rest of the rhyme…”when she was bad, she was horrid” has been the way I think Mother Nature has treated us this year.

During the past years, the New Dawn climbing roses have grown up and over the garden shed and along one side of the picket fence around our garden. I love their pale pink color and the sweet and heady fragrance of their old fashioned blossoms.

New Dawn Climbing Rose Bush Growing On Garden Shed And Picket Fence

New Dawn Climbing Rose Bush Growing Up And Over The Garden Shed And Along The Picket Fence

This year, only one of the two plants survived the harsh winter and just barely. As you can perhaps see, there is only a single pink bloom at the very top of one branch near the shed.

New Dawn Climbing Rose Is Barely Alive With One Bloom At The Very Top

The New Dawn Climbing Rose Is Barely Alive With Just One Bloom At The Very Top

In New Hampshire, September starts the fall apple picking season. The season usually runs through October for the later varieties. Once there have been several frosts, the remaining apples on the trees become much sweeter and are perfect for pressing cider.

In A Good Year, Big Juicy Apples Are Ready To Start Picking In September

In A Good Year, Big Juicy Apples In Our Orchard Are Ready For Picking In September

Our back orchard should be a sea of red and yellow apples right now. The trees so loaded with large, juicy apples that many of the heavy laden branches bend down to the ground.

In A Good Year The Trees Are Heavy With Apples

In A Good Year The Trees Are Heavy With Apples

Unfortunately, this year the apple trees are almost empty of fruit and the orchard looks more like a park with its rolling landscape and sea of green, appleless trees.

The Back Orchard Looks Like A Park With No Apples On The Trees

The Back Orchard Looks More Like A Park With No Apples On The Trees

Out of the hundred varieties of mostly heritage apples that we grow in our orchard,  my favorite apple has always been a Mutzu. It is a large green to yellow apple that is juicy, crisp and slightly tart. Cortlands, a very popular apple here in New Hampshire, grow in several rows beside the Mutzu trees near the rock walls that line our farm. Again, in this section of the orchard there are only a handful of either variety of apples to pick.

Cortland And Mutzu Apples In Previous Year

Cortland And Mutzu Apples From A Previous Year

There Will Be No Cortland And Mutzu Apples This Year

There Are Only A Handful Of Cortland And Mutzu Apples This Year

In a good apple season, there are more than enough apples to keep ourselves, our friends and yes, even the deer and other critters happy. The deer still come into the orchard but they will be munching on the leaves and branches of our trees instead of apples this year.

In A Normal Year There Are Plenty Of Apples For Us And The Critters

In A Normal Year There Are Plenty Of Apples For Us And The Deer

The orchard in front of the barn is usually loaded with Gala and Starkrimson apples.

Orchard In Front Of Our Barn Where Gala

The Orchard In Front Of Our Barn Is Where Gala And Starkrimson Apples Usually Grow In Abundance

This season, the front orchard is almost bare of apples as well. If you look hard, you can see one red apple on the front tree of the left row…how sad.

The Trees In The Front Orchard Are Usually  Heavy With Fruit But Not This Year

The Trees In The Front Orchard Are Usually Heavy With Fruit But Not This Year

You might be wondering why there are hardly any apples this season. During this past winter, the deer were out in the deep snow of the orchard eating lots of the tender apple buds. Come springtime when the trees were in bloom, we had rainy, windy days so the bees weren’t out pollinating the blossoms like they usually do. Without bees…no apples.

While it is disappointing to have a season with almost no apples, thankfully we don’t depend on selling them to earn a living as many people do. What does make me very sad is the fact that quite a few of our trees seem to be dying from the stresses of nature. A good part of summer has been very dry and I don’t think the trees will ever recover. Next spring, I think a number of dead trees will have to be removed from the orchard.

Apple Trees Stressed By The Affects Of Nature Seem  To Be Dying

Apple Trees Stressed By The Effects Of Nature Seem To Be Dying

You probably don’t live on a farm and perhaps haven’t given much thought to seasons from one year to the next. One thing is for sure though…we all have to deal with the effects of a bad growing season. Go to your local market and walk down the produce aisle and sometimes you just have to shake your head. Not only might there be a shortage of good fruit and vegetables to purchase but what is in the produce bins may be more expensive than last year. If organic, you can be sure they are expensive. What you may not have thought about is all the money spent by the farmer who doesn’t have a crop this year to harvest. Things aren’t always rosy, especially if you are a farmer and depend on nature.

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Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta

A very popular appetizer at parties and restaurants in New England is bacon wrapped sea scallops. While this is a delicious starter, I wanted the same flavors for an evening meal and created Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta. Each bite of crisp, salty smoked bacon, tender sea scallops, and creamy corn polenta is a nice contrast of textures and flavors that is a true taste treat in your mouth.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta

Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta

Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta

Recipe serves two, adjust according

Creamy Corn Polenta

  • corn kernels cut from 2 ears of fresh corn or about 1 c. if using frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter plus an additional Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. half & half or whole milk (do not use reduced fat milk or it will curdle)
  • 1/2 c. polenta
  • 2 c. of liquid (water, chicken or vegetable broth can be used) *
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (if using broth, you may not need the salt)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sniped chives for garnish (optional)

*The basic ratio for cooking polenta is 1 part polenta to 4 parts of liquid.

Divide the corn kernels in half. Add the half & half to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add one half of the corn and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend until you have a smooth consistency then set the mixture aside.

Heat olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small sauté pan until the butter is melted. Cook the remainder of the corn over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes, then set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the liquid and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta in a fine steady stream to prevent clumping. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid slightly askew to prevent splattering. Stir often with a long handle spoon as it thickens, adding extra liquid if necessary. Cook until the polenta becomes creamy, about 25-30 minutes (the cooking time may be different depending on the polenta you use.)

Add the pureed corn and cook a few minutes more then stir in the sautéed corn kernels, reserving a few for garnish. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm. The polenta will thicken as it cools so prepare it as close to serving time as possible. Add more liquid to loosen, if necessary.

Scallops With Bacon Lardons

  • 2 slices of bacon (I used thick sliced applewood smoked bacon)
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • sea scallops (I use large U10 dry scallops** and figure 4 or 5 a person)
  • salt and pepper to taste

**Dry scallops are all wild and natural. They are not treated with any chemicals whatsoever and will brown nicely.

Slice the bacon into 1/4 inch slices, place in a nonstick sauté pan and cook until crisp. Remove and place on paper towel. Reserve the bacon drippings.

Dry the sea scallops well and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Add the oil to the bacon drippings. When the oil is shimmering, add the scallops in one layer and cook undisturbed for one and a half to two minutes or until golden. Turn and cook for approximately another minute or two until golden brown. They should be be a little translucent in the center and almost firm to the touch. Do not over cook or the scallops will be tough. ***Be sure to not overcrowd the scallops or they will not brown properly. Cook in two batches, if necessary.

To serve, stir the polenta well (adding a little half & half or liquid if necessary) then spoon a portion in the center of a plate. Top with a portion of sea scallops, sprinkle with the bacon lardons, the reserved corn kernels and garnish with chives.

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This dish had all the flavors of bacon wrapped scallops that I love as an appetizer but offered so much more for an evening meal. The creamy corn polenta, the succulent scallops and the bacon lardons were a perfect combination of salty, sweet, soft and crispy. I believe this recipe would also make a wonderful first course, serving one or two scallops a person, depending on the size of the scallops.

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Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Mango Pineapple Relish

Enjoy the island flavors of tropical fruits, spices, and rum when you prepare  Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Mango Pineapple Relish. Ripe mangos and pineapple, the color of sunshine, are mixed with chilies and a splash of rum to create a sweet and slightly spicy relish or salsa. It is served alongside slices of tender pork with a spice rubbed crust formed by first being seared on the stove top, finished in the oven and then brushed with a rum glaze to help retain all its delicious juices.

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Mango Pineapple Relish

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Mango Pineapple Relish

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  • 3/4 – 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of all silver skin
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 additional Tbsp. peanut or canola oil
  • Spice rub – See recipe below
  • Rum Glaze – See recipe below

Rub 1 Tbsp. of oil onto the pork tenderloin and then coat with the spice rub. Let the meat marinate for at least 15 minutes (can be covered and refrigerated for several hours or up to 1 day).  Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the pork and sear on all sides. Remove from the stove top and place in the preheated oven (about 15 minutes depending on size) until the pork registers 145 degrees. Remove from the oven, brush with the glaze and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with the mango pineapple relish.

Spice Rub

  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, allspice, ground ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar

Mix all the seasoning together well. If not using right away, store in a sealed container.

Rum Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 onion, minced fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 c. dark rum
  • juice from 1/2 lime

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the butter and honey. Remove the saucepan from the flame and add the rum and lime juice. Return to the heat and cook until the sauce thickens to a glaze like consistency.

Mango Pineapple Relish

  • 1 mango, peeled and cubed*
  • 3/4 c. fresh pineapple, cubed (canned diced pineapple can also be used)
  • 1/8 tsp. each of salt, garlic powder and ground ginger
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño chili, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce (honey may be substituted)
  • juice from 1/4 lime

Mix the mango, pineapple, seasonings, cilantro, chili, rum, sweet chili sauce, and lime juice together in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to develop the flavors.

*Slice off each side of the mango as close to the seed as possible. Score the cut mango flesh in a crisscross pattern down to the skin. Bend the skin backwards so that the cubes pop up and then slice the cubes away from the skin.

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I served the pork with black beans that had been cooked with fresh tomatoes and peppers from my garden. It would also be good with plantains, sweet potatoes, yuca or buttered white rice. Perhaps the tropical flavors of this dish may remind you of a past visit to Hawaii, Bermuda, the Caribbean islands, or sunny Florida with their sun filled skies and tropical breezes.

Which Way To A Tropical Isand

How Far To A Tropical Island

 

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