Marsh Edge Farm Notes

Marsh Edge Farm Notes:
Welcome to my farm blog. I don't have a farm, but I do everything possible to have fresh produce on my table all summer long, as well as can and preserve much of what I grow. I live on the edge of Tolland Marsh and three years ago began calling my home garden Marsh Edge Farm. I created a label to place on all my canned goods, and everything I preserve, from jams to saurkraut end up with one of my simple labels.

I have two gardens, one is a spring garden and the other is my summer garden. From each garden I usually can grow enough to keep me in fresh vegetables for the whole summer, as well as enough to can and freeze to last the winter.

I also grow many of the herbs that go into my dishes. One of my favorite things to do with all these vegetables is create recipes that my family will eat. That is what this blog is mainly about, the recipes I develop or create in my kitchen as I experiment. Hope you enjoy reading my farm blog, and I hope you will try some of my recipes.

Updates for 2014

After a few years of very bad crops, I have left behind the vegetable gardens for awhile. However, I have found that fresh produce is available throughout the summer at the many farmers markets in the area. Here is a list of some of the markets and farms I gather my fresh fruits and vegetables from.

Rockville Farmers Market: Thursdays from 10 to 1 at the courthouse parking lot.

Tolland Farmers Market: Saturdays from 9 to 12 on the green.

Coventry Regional Farmers Market: Sundays from 11 to 2 at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South St.

Wright's Orchard on South River Road in Tolland, CT

Larry Lemeks Berries on Goose Lane in Tolland, CT.

Johnny Appleseeds Peach Orchard on Old Schoolhouse Rd. in Ellington, CT.

Buell Orchards in Eastford, CT.

There are many other farmers markets throughout the state of Connecticut on different days as well as numerous roadside stands. Support your local farmers no matter how small and you will gain in health and well being by eating the freshest of the fresh.

A link to the Connecticut Farmers Markets for 2014

Monday, January 14, 2019

Opossum, Squirrels and Woodchucks - They Can Be Eaten

Old cookbooks have a wealth of interesting recipes that have long been forgotten. During the wars, the depression, and other times of rationing, people often had to use what they could find. There always seemed to be lots of squirrels. Woodchucks always seemed to eat everything you planted, and then some. Oppossums were not as much of a problem, but they could be mean. So having found some of those old cookbooks, I thought I would share some of the interesting recipes I found.

Mind you, I have not tried any of these. I don't have any photographs of the finished dishes, but if you are adventurous and want to try some of these, share your photos and your opinions.


If you are a hunter, it is very easy to know how to safely kill these somewhat nuisance animals. If you  are not one to like guns, you can catch them with various traps available at places like Cabela's or other sport shops. Once they are trapped and killed, you need to skin them and you need to remove the scent glands and the organs.

OPOSSUM - Place a stick through him and hang him to let him bleed out, about 12 hours. Place him in a half filled tub of scalding water, holding by the tail, until the fur begins to strip. Take him out of the water and pluck off the fur. Draw, clean and hang him up to freeze for two or three nights. You might have to use a freezer for this if you are not in a place with freezing nights. (From the book Camping and Woodcraft, Horace Kephart. One source to buy is Amazon.)

SQUIRREL - To skin, hang up by the hind legs. Slit skin around first joint of hind legs. Insert knife in slit and loosen skin around the legs and rump. With fingers, pull tail and skin down over body until free. Cut off head and feet. Slit down front and remove entrails, reserving the heart and liver. When ready to cook wash thoroughly and dry. (From New American Cookbook, published by Books Inc in 1941. Edited by Lily Haxworth Wallace.)

WOODCHUCK - An old timer named Bob Flowers from the Smokies recommends only eating the gray ones. He says to remove the scent glands from under their front legs. Skin them and remove the entrails. I have no idea how to skin a woodchuck. Boil them fast to get all the strong into the water. According to J. Alden Loring, the only way to cook a woodchuck is by roasting him whole on a stick over a hot fire. (From the book Camping and Woodcraft, Horace Kephart.)

Recipes for cooking these three game animals.


Recipe 1582 in New American Cookbook, 1941.
Plunge animal into very hot but not boiling water for 2 minutes. Pull out or scrape off hair without damaging the skin. Slit belly from throat to hind legs. Remove entrails, feet, eyes and brains. Do not remove head or tail. Wash thoroughly. If possible freeze for 3 or 4 days. When ready to cook, wipe with a cold, damp cloth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in roasting pan. Add 1 cup water and the juice of 1 lemon. Bake in hot oven (400 F) for 15 minutes, turning once. Cover. Reduce heat and bake in moderate oven (350 F) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

From Camping and Woodcraft, page. 311

After freezing for a few days, place opossum in a 5 gallon kettle of cold water that you have thrown two pods of red pepper. (Perhaps cayenne.) Parboil for one hour in the pepper water. Throw out the water and refill the kettle with fresh water. Boil for an additional hour.

In the meantime, slice and steam some sweet potatoes. Take the opossum out, place him in a large Dutch oven, sprinkle him with salt, black pepper, and a touch of sage. Lemon juice can also be added. Pack the sweet potatoes around him. Pour a pint of water into the oven, put the lid on. Bake slowly around 325 until brown and crisp. Serve hot with no gravy.


I had no recipes for cooking a woodchuck. I decided to do a Google search. I found a site called Wild Game Recipes. So I will only list two recipes.

Woodchuck Stew

1 woodchuck
2 onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
Vinegar and water
Salt and pepper
Clean woodchuck; remove glands; cut into serving pieces. Soak overnight in a solution of equal parts of water and vinegar with addition of one sliced onion and a little salt. Drain, wash, and wipe. Parboil 20 minutes, drain, and cover with fresh boiling water. Add one sliced onion, celery, a few cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender; thicken gravy with flour. 

Woodchuck Pie    

1 woodchuck, skinned and cleaned
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup green pepper
1/2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups broth
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fat
1/4 cup milk
Cut woodchuck into 2 or 3 pieces. Parboil for 1 hour. Remove meat from bones in large pieces. Add onion, green pepper, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour to the broth and srit until it thickens. If the broth does not measure 3 cups, add water. Add the meat to the broth mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into baking dish.
For biscuits: sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut in the fat and add the liquid. Stir until the dry ingredients are moist. Roll only enough to make it fit the dish. Place dough on top of meat, put in a hot oven (400 degrees F.) and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until dough is browned. Serves 6-8. 


All recipes were taken from New American Cookbook, 1941

Recipe 1579 Roast Squirrel

Boil heart and liver until tender. Chop fine and mix with poultry stuffing dampened with water in which giblets were cooked. Stuff squirrel. Sew the opening in the belly. Tie or fasten legs close to body with skewers. Rub squirrel with butter, oil or fat before cooking. Place on side in roaster. Roast in hot oven (450 F) for 15 minutes, turning once and basting frequently with melted butter or drippings. Reduce heat and continue cooking in moderate oven (350 F) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. Make gravy by adding a little flour, mixed to a smooth past with cold water, to drippings, blending well. One squirrel should be two servings. 

Recipe 1580 Brunswick Stew

2 gray squirrels                                                                   2 cups canned or strained
1 tablespoon salt                                                                           stewed tomatoes
4 potatoes, pared and cubed                                               1/4 pound diced salt pork
1 cup canned corn                                                               1 tablespoon butter
2 diced onions                                                                     1 tablespoon flour
1 cup lima beans                                                                 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Skin, dress, draw and clean squirrels. Disjoint. Put 8 cups water and salt in kettle. Bring to boil. Add squirrels, potatoes, corn, onions, beans, tomatoes and salt pork. Cover and simmer 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Add flour, mixed to a smooth paste with butter. Mix well. Cover and cook 15 minutes more. Season with pepper and stir until slightly thickened. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe 1581 Squirrel Pot Pie

3 gray or fox squirrels                                                          1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour                                                                         1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter                                                              Rounds of biscuit crust (not sure if biscuit is baked)
1 chopped onion.

Skin, dress, draw and clean squirrels. Disjoint. Roll in flour. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan. Saute squirrel until brown. Add 1 quart boiling water, onions, salt and pepper. Cover closely and simmer 1 hour. Lay rounds of crust on squirrel. Cover. Boil 15 minutes. Remove crusts and squirrel to hot platter. Blend 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter and add to liquid in pan, mixing well. Pour over squirrel and crusts. If desired lemon juice, sherry or Worcestershire sauce may be added to gravy before serving. Serves 6 to 8.


Well, I hope some will try to refine these recipes. Many of the old cookbooks did not put complete directions, so some of these recipes may take a little trial and error to see what works best. These game animals are quite plentiful and there should be no issue with overhunting them, especially the squirrels. Happy hunting and happy cooking.                          

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Yellow Squash Cookies and Cucumber Pulp Crackers

This is more for my own use. It has been a wicked year for 2018. I have been burdened by a bountiful harvest of yellow squash and cucumbers. I went on a search for yellow squash cookies, and stumbled on another blog that offered what sounds like a very nice recipe. Here is the link.

UPDATE!  I have tested this recipe. The flavor is more like a biscuit because of the low amount of sugar. I did not stick to the recipe however. Here are my changes.

2 cups white whole wheat flour - gives a more dense cookie.
2 tsp almond extract instead of vanilla extract
1 tsp. Cinnamon.
1 3/4 cup shredded yellow summer squash squeezed as dry as you can
1/4 cup zucchini squash again squeezed dry
Chopped maraschino cherries. - I used a whole 8 Oz. Jar.
1/2 to 3/4 cup thick cut sliced almonds - bought at a bulk counter

So why did I opt for cherries? As I tasted the batter, I just thought something was missing. I remembered the old fashioned thumbprint cookies with cherries and went looking in my cabinet for a jar of maraschino cherries.

My first batch on the cookie sheet, I put a 1/2 of a cherry on each cookie. The next batch I made with no cherries. I tasted the cookie with the cherry, noticed the biscuit flavor, but the bite with the cherry was awesome. The cookie with no cherry tastes good if you want a less sweet flavor. Then with the remaining cherries I decided to chop and mix with the remaining batter. They all are good, but the chopped cherries add a nice overall sweetness that was lacking.

There is another that I may also try. Here is the link for that recipe.
The comments are important to read because I think in order to get a nice cookie that isn’t too mushy, squeezing out excess moisture will probably make a cookie with a better consistency.

But how about all those cucumbers? Well, today I made crackers from the pulp. I juiced the cucumbers, and got 8 cups of juice and 3 cups of pulp from about 13 cucumbers. The juice will be used for powdered drink mixes, such as Country Time Lemonade and Lipton iced tea mix. I kept 2 cups in the fridge and the rest have been frozen in standard 1 pint canning jars.

So here is the link to the cracker recipe.

A few changes I made was adding nearly twice as much garlic powder and onion powder, because mine are rather old. I also added about a teaspoon or 2 of dill seed. As I baked the crackers in accordance with the recipe, they were not getting crispy enough, so at the recommended 35 Minute bake time, I took the crackers out of the oven, took them off the cookie sheet, turned them over, shook on some sea salt, then laid them directly on the foil lined oven rack. I baked them an additional 15-20 minutes at 350F rather than 325F as the recipe stated. The finished cracker was somewhat crispy and pretty tasty.

The recipe is for general crispy vegetable crackers. I am certain if they were made from carrots or beets they would be crispy by following the recipe as stated. However, cucumbers and squash are quite a bit more watery, so extra time, or maybe a good squeeze to get out extra moisture changes the technique a little more.


My second attempt came out much better than my first. The crackers are crispy and the dill flavor really comes through. Here is the recipe, so you don't have to follow the link every time, and what I did differently.

  • 1 cup green juice pulp, packed slightly
  • 120 g or 1 cup arrowroot starch
  • 53 g or ¼ cup coconut oil (mine was a soft solid), plus an extra teaspoon for greasing
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup cool filtered water (I used only 1 tablespoon of water)

  1. Place a large sheet of foil on the middle baking rack and preheat the oven to 325F/ 160C
  2. Place the pulp in a food processor and process until broken up (remove any clumpy bits like apple peel)
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients except for the water and process until well mixed
  4. With the processor running, add in the water by the tablespoon until a dough forms
  5. Turn a half-sheet pan (46 x 33 x 2.5 cm or 18 x 13 x 1") over and grease the surface evenly and lightly with a pastry brush
  6. Place the dough on the greased surface and cover with a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the half-sheet pan
  7. Roll the dough until it is evenly 3 mm or ⅛" thick (uneven thickness will result in chewy parts)
  8. Score the sheet of dough with a knife into squares (I scored mine into 24 crackers)
  9. Place on the foil-lined middle baking rack and bake for 35 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned
  10. Remove from the oven and run a thin spatula between the crackers and the baking sheet to release the sheet of crackers (Note: the oil may run off the half-sheet pan, so remove it carefully without tilting too much! I have an oil-stained recipe notebook now!)
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before snapping into individual crackers


I added 1 tablespoon dill seed to the mixture.
Here are my recommendations to get a crispier cracker. 
Cucumbers do not like to crisp up very well, so I squeezed as much moisture out of the pulp as I could, then put into food processor. 
For the cookie sheet, I did not put a thin layer of oil on it, but a medium one. Have to get the edges as well. 
When I rolled out the dough on the sheet, I really rolled thin, like about 1/8 inch. For some reason the cucumber pulp will not dry out unless it is super thin. This meant I had to get a second sheet to roll out the remaining dough.
Don't forget to score the dough before baking.
I placed both sheets in the oven at 325F. Baked for 35 minutes, then removed the crackers and broke them apart. Any crackers that were still moist, I turned over and put back on the cookie sheet, then baked for however long I needed at 350F. I checked the crackers every 5 minutes to see if some had crisped enough, removed them and kept putting the sheets back in. The entire time needed for this second baking could be anywhere from 5 minutes to as long as 30 minutes. Just keep checking for crispness so that they don't overbake.

Hope some of my past audience will find these links interesting and worth trying. It has been a very long time since I posted any recipes, but maybe I will get back into testing things out, getting creative, and sharing. Thanks for my audience if you check in for this latest blog entry.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Cookies to Leftovers - A few ideas from Christmas 2015

Christmas Table, 2015

It has been a long time since I last wrote in this blog. I have been very busy this year. I got my first book published called Facets: Homespun Poetry and Photography on New England under my writers name of Julyn S, Pride. I have also had several exhibits of my photography at art galleries and restaurants. Cooking has been at a premium, primarily consisting of a meat, a vegetable and a starch. The creative juices have been focusing on my poetry and art. So I have had very few ideas on food preparation for the year.

Christmas always lends itself to new recipes. This year was no exception. Our dinner included smoked macaroni and cheese, crockpot pulled pork, mashed potatoes, spoon roast, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, and salad. All were incredibly delicious.

My brother, Craig, has developed a recipe for smoked macaroni and cheese using a wood fired smoker. I have not gotten the recipe or technique yet from him, but it may come about again on Easter. For now, I have two recipes to share, and one interesting way to bake boxed brownies. Though the holiday is done for this year, these recipes can be used almost any time. I hope my readers had their own creative moments this holiday season. All it takes are a few changes from your own sense of taste, and the recipe suddenly becomes your own to share with family and friends.

My first recipe is just a basic sugar cookie. I searched many sites for one that I liked and I found one on Food Network. I will first post the original recipe, then my changes to create my own uniquely flavored sugar cookie.

Christmas Cutout Sugar Cookies - The Food Network    


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Colored Icing, recipe follows 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. In another bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy and light. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, a third at a time to make a stiff dough. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll out a portion of cookie dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased or nonstick cookie sheets. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minute, rotating baking sheet halfway through cooking time. Cool completely on pans about 5 minutes, transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before decorating.
Colored Icing:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons water

3 to 4 drops food coloring, plus more as needed

Colored sprinkles, optional

In a small bowl, mix sugar and water to form a thick, smooth icing. Stir in food coloring to reach desired shade. Drop icing onto cookies using a small teaspoon and smooth with the back of the spoon. Make additional bowls for additional colors.

Additional multi-colored sprinkles can be added on top of icing before it dries for more decorative cookies, if desired

June's Adapted Christmas Cutout Cookie Recipe

4 cups all purpose flour                             
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup UNSALTED butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons Half and Half or Light Cream
Maple Syrup
Colored Sugar


1.) Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2) Mix flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl.
3.) Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This takes time because there is no salt in the butter. 
   I think it took me about 6 minutes until I was satisfied that the butter and sugar was creamed.

4.) Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.

5.) Knead the dough with your hands if it is too dry to stick together. Add Half and Half a tablespoon 
     at a time to get the dough to stick together. The dough ends up being a lot like shortbread, which  
     is why I liked the recipe so much.

6,) Roll out the dough a little at a time to 1/4 inch thickness, on the shiny side of Freezer Paper. 
     This was a discovery I  just made as I was rolling out the dough. Lift your cut out shapes with
     a spatula. By pulling them off the paper with your hands, the cookies will tear.
7.) Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. Check after
     8 minutes because sometimes you roll the  
     dough too thin and it bakes quicker. 

 8.) Let cool.

9.)   Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of honey and water in a coffee cup.

10.) Mix a 1 to 1 ration of maple syrup and water in another coffee cup. 

11.) Brush on either the honey mixture or the maple syrup mixture on a cooled cookie.

12.) Sprinkle colored sugar before the cookie dries then shake off the excess sugar onto a 
       creased piece of wax paper. Once the sugar is dry, you can pour back into its jar. 

 Cranberry Brownies


A boxed brownie mix, family size to fit 13 x 9 pan
1 1/2 cup Fresh cranberries
Powdered sugar


1,)Follow directions on box. Before baking, fold in cranberries. I usually bake my brownies in an 
    11  x 7 pan.

2,) Bake for about 45 minutes. The cranberries make it a little moist so it takes longer to bake.

3.) Cool, then cut brownies to desired size. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Stuffed Shells with Leftover Mashed Potato

This was a try it recipe that I decided might taste good. As I viewed the 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes from Christmas dinner, I wondered what I could do to use them up. I am not keen of reheating mashed potatoes, and I just didn't feel like making a Shepherds Pie, so I thought "Maybe it would taste good, almost like a pierogi, if I used jumbo shells and baked it." So this is what I did, and it was amazing. You have to try this one. Kids would probably even eat it, that is how good it is.


12 oz. box of jumbo stuffed shells
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1-1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
5 strips fully cooked Hormel bacon, original, torn into small pieces
1/8 - 1/4 cup additional 2 % milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
parsley or oregano to add color and flavor
1/4 cup melted Smart Balance buttery spread, Original


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1. ) Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. ) With a hand mixer, mash cold potatoes with milk to make very smooth.
3.)  Add bacon and cheddar cheese to remashed potatoes. Mix well.
4.)  Add onion powder and salt to potato mixture and mix well.
5,) Stuff shells with a large spoonful of mixture.
6.) Pour melted butter over shells and bake for
      40-50 minutes

Enjoy these recipes. They are all very good. Happy cooking. Hope to see you sooner than a year. With the next book being written, I still may not have much time to keep up the blog. Be assured, though, that there will be future recipes, just maybe not every week. Thanks for reading and have a terrific 2016.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vegetable Dishes with Tolland Cookbook Club - Mar. 16, 2015

 Preview for my entry that will be updated during the week.  I will add photos, and add the recipes brought by the members of the cookbook club.

It was our monthly cookbook club gathering at the Tolland Library on Mar. 16, 2015.  This months theme was vegetable dishes, which is rather hard at this time of year.  Most of our favorite summer choices lack flavor when we head for the grocery store for our weekly groceries.  Though I try to stick with in season produce, which means primarily root vegetables for the winter, I often times substitute frozen vegetables for fresh when I want to try a recipe. 

I chose a cookbook from the library put out by Williams Sonoma.  It is part of the Time Life books series.  The book, entitled Vegetables, (link) has some wonderful recipes in it, but what drew me to it was one recipe that sounded quite delicious.  I tested the recipe out last Friday, and it was as good as I thought it would be.  For my first entry, I share the recipe called Sweet Potato Pudding, which is good in the winter with a simple soup and bread, or as a side dish with turkey or ham at holiday time.  For my part, I would definitely make this again, and I would also choose to serve it to company.  It is elegant and hearty at the same time.

                                              Sweet Potato Pudding
Prep. time - 45 minutes
Cook time - 30-40 minutes
Servings - 4 to 5


3 sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb. (750 g)
     total weight.
1/3 cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) heavy (double)
     cream (see note at end)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon ( I used 
      Jim Beam)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon (link)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pecan halves for topping, optional 


1.) Preheat oven to 375*F (190*C).  Butter a 1-1 1/2 qt. (1-1.5-1) souffle dish.

2.) Place the unpeeled sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, 30-40 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  
      Microwave directions - Place potatoes on dish, and microwave from 12-15 minutes till tender.  
                                             Turn over halfway through cooking time.

3.)  Peel the sweet potatoes. 


4.) Transfer to a food processor                                
fitted with the metal blade 
and puree.   


 5.)  Add the cream, eggs and                    
      butter and process to blend. 

 6.)  Add the bourbon,
       lemon juice      
       and zest, nutmeg, cinnamon
       and ginger and process again
       to mix.  Season to taste with salt
       and process for a few seconds to
       blend the ingredients.

7.)  Spoon into the prepared dish.
       Place in a large baking pan and
       pour in hot water to reach
       halfway up the
       sides of the dish.
     Do not get any water in
        the pudding.

8.)  Place in the oven and bake
      until puffed and golden brown 
      on top about 40 minutes.
      Garnish top
      with pecan halves
      if desired.   Serve hot
      directly from the souffle dish.

      Slice up and enjoy with family and friends.  It is also good cold, and if you don't add the salt, it has a sweet enough taste to actually be a dessert.  The texture was extremely creamy and held its shape when cut and served.

Note:  The use of double cream is rather difficult in the United States.  You have to create it yourself with existing available similar ingredients.  You can substitute a homemade version of double cream, (link) or become creative as I did.  I bought Chobani plain greek yogurt, and added 1 1/2 teaspoons to heavy cream and mixed the two to make 1/3 cup.  By using yogurt, I had to add about 10 minutes to the cook time, but I believe it did make the pudding very creamy with that hint of sweetness. 


                                        Chinese - Style Vegetables 
Prep time:  25 minutes
Cook time: 2-4 minutes
Servings:  4


1/4 cup (2 floz/60ml) cold-pressed sesame oil
     or safflower oil
3 tender celery stalks, trimmed and cut
     on the diagonal
1/2 lb (250 g) green beans, trimmed
     and cut on the diagonal
6 cauliflower florets
     cut on the diagonal
6 broccoli florets
     cut on the diagonal.
1 small bok choy, leaves cut into
     thin slivers.
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) vegetable stock,
     heated (I used Emerils organic)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) pine nuts
     or almonds


1.)  Warm the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat.  Add the celery, beans, cauliflower
       broccoli and bok choy and stir until coated with the oil.  

2.)  Raise the heat to high, add 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) of the stock, the soy sauce and red pepper  
      flakes.  Stir constantly until the vegetables are barely tender, 2-4 minutes, depending on
      how well done you prefer them.    When the stock evaporates, add only enough
      remaining stock as needed to prevent sticking.  

3.)  Taste for seasoning and adjust with more soy sauce and/or pepper flakes.  Stir in the 
       pine nuts or almonds (if using almonds, coarsely chop them) and serve.

Opinion of this recipe:  For my personal tastes, I would either reduce the celery or leave it out entriely.  I found it to be far stronger than I expected it to be.  Other than that, another change I might make is using sesame seeds in the recipe.  The sesame oil does create a nice sesame flavor, but I just happen to love using seeds in my cooking.  

Serving suggestion:  Buy the Thai Peanut Sauce Powder mix, and add to unsweetened coconut milk.  Stir fry thin strips of chicken, and mix with the peanut sauce.  Serve with jasmine rice and the vegetables.  

For my last offering to the club, I used a recipe from another William Sonoma cookbook, also from the Time Life Books.  This recipe book is excellent during the farmers market season of May through October.  It uses the freshest, tastiest ingredients.  Cooking From The Farmers Market.  (link)
can be used throughout the winter by using frozen vegetables or opting for out of season vegetables.  I have added winter alterations to the recipe.  I am sure it will taste much better in season.  I made these quesadillas and brought them to the group for a taste test as well.

Quesadillas With Heirloom Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Salsa  

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings:  4

2 lb. (1kg) assorted heirloom or                               1/4 cup (1/3 oz/10 g) chopped fresh cilantro
   other tomatoes. (I used plum
    tomatoes and vine ripened)
    coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt                                                    1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground pepper                                         2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ears of corn, white or yellow                                  2 tablespoons lime juice
   or a mixture, husks removed
   (I used 3-4 cups frozen corn)
2 tablespoons canola or other                                     1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used 
   light vegetable oil                                                        Mexican style Chile Powder)
1 large, ripe avocado, halved,                                     8 flour tortillas, each about 10 inches
   pitted and peeled and cut into                                       (25 cm) in diameter
   1.2 inch (12mm) dice                                               1/2 lb (250 g) Monterey jack or other
1/2 cup ( 3 oz/90 g) minced red onion                        mild cheese, shredded

1.)  Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. 
                 WINTER DIRECTIONS:  Use an electric grill (link)

2.)  Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.  Stir to mix and set aside.

3.)  Brush the ears of corn with 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When the coals are medium-hot, place the corn on the grill rack and grill, turning often, until tender and lightly bronzed, 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove from the grill rack and let cool.
                  WINTER DIRECTIONS: Mix frozen corn with oil.  Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. 
                                                             Grill until browned and tender.

4.)  In a bowl, combine the avocado, onion, cilantro, serrano chilie, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cut off the kernels from the corn cobs (or just add the grilled frozen corn) and add to the avocado mixture.  Stir to mix 

5.)  In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  When it is hot, place 1 tortilla in the pan and cook until the edges begin to curl slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with some cheese down the center.  Using a spatula, fold the tortilla in half and press down on the top.  Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 30 seconds, then turn and continue to cook on the second side until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 30 seconds longer.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.  Repeat until all the tortillas are cooked.  

Tip:  If you happen to have a George Foreman grill, you can reduce your cooking time by using it to cook both sides at the same time. You might even be able to use a waffle maker, but you would have to experiment. 

6.)  Spoon several tablespoons of the tomatoes and the corn salsa inside each quesadilla and serve at once.  

Opinion of this recipe:  I LOVED it.  I would have liked a bit more smokey flavor, so when I make it again, I will use perhaps 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.  This is a real keeper, and the tomato/corn salsa mixture makes a wonderful dip for chips, as well as a spread on crackers.  Of course, serving in the heated and browned tortilla shells is the best way to enjoy this recipe.


Some of the other recipes offered at the meeting follow.  I have not tried any of them, but a few, such as the Fresh Mushroom Soup, and Bell Peppers stuffed with Rice, Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes sound interesting.  No photos will be added unless I make the recipes to update later.

                            Bell Peppers Stuffed with Rice, 
                  Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes      
Prep time:  25 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Servings - 4 if using large peppers
                  8 if using extra large peppers by splitting in half.

4 large green, red or yellow bell peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
3 to 4 cups cooked long-grain white or brown rice (used 2 cups)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (Used the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and
   coarsely chopped (Used 5 oz container baby spinach)

Preheat oven to 350* F
Slice off the tops of the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.  Plunge the peppers into a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened.  I have often skipped this step, because the peppers end up being too mushy when you bake them.  If you do use the boiling water, then immediately put the cooked peppers into ice water to stop any further cooking.  This may keep more strength to the pepper as well as tenderize it just enough.  Set aside cut side down to drain.

Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the spinach, garlic and tomatoes and cook until the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the rice, parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and place upright in a baking dish.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the baking dish, cover and bake until the filling is hot and the peppers are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve hot.  

One additional adjustment that was made was instead of using water, add a 16 oz. can of tomato sauce.  Other things you can do is use tomato juice for a less thick sauce, and I have even added a little vinegar to tomato soup and used that as well.   There are many variations you can do depending on your tastes.

                    Fresh Mushroom Soup 

3 tablespoons butter                                      2 1/2 pints (6 cups) vegetable stock
1 onion, finely chopped                                2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 shallot, finely chopped                              4 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup white wine                                       salt and pepper to taste
1 lb 9 oz. mushrooms, sliced                        2/3 cup light cream or whole milk
3 tablespoons all purpose flour 

1.)  Melt half the butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and season
      with salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
      Remove from heat.
2.)  Melt the remaining butter in saucepan, add onions and shallots, cook 2-3 minutes
      until just softened.  Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Add wine and stock, 
      stir well.  
3.)  Set aside about 1/4 of the mushrooms.  Add remainder to stock pot.  Reduce heat, 
      cover and cook gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4.)  Allow soup to cool slightly, then puree.
5.)  Stir in remaining mushrooms, cream and parsley.
6.)  Ladle into bowls, swirl in sour cream, garnish with chopped parsley.  

Next month we will be meeting on April 20 at 6:30 p.m at the Tolland Library.  The subject will be CHOCOLATE!!!   I do believe this particular session will be very popular, and I can count on lots of samples being brought.