August Farm Tour and Sunset Dinner at Sandiwood Farm

“Did you enjoy yourselves?” we ask. “It was magical”, they reply.

There was that word again. Magical. It has crept into my vocabulary here – into my journal, our conversations, it’s become a genuine feeling. Magical. As Disney as it might sound that is how I will fondly remember this summer in Vermont.

My friend Allison likes to say that “the stars aligned for us”. Harrison was just finishing culinary school and was hungry to get more hands on experience growing the food he prepares. Then our friend Sandi enters. Her parents have a small organic vegetable farm called Sandiwood Farm in Wolcott. We visit and poof, we’re then lending a hand with seeding, weeding and harvesting.

We also shared a common vision of creating farm-to-table dinner experiences there on the farm. But more than just a vision, we each possessed our own unique strengths that we could pull from to bring the concept to life. I could pull from my event planning and communications roots; Harrison, Sandi (and this month, Amy) brought menu design, cooking and catering talents; Sara and Bob of course offered beautiful harvests, a wealth of farming knowledge and an eagerness to share; and Dani, Becca and Kyle had the passion, resourcefulness and contagious enthusiasm to pitch in wherever needed to bring it all to life.








This week we hosted our third farm dinner and as I looked around it did feel as if the stars aligned. We were organizing, orchestrating and best of all, just laughing. And outside there were warm introductions between strangers, the crackling sounds of a bonfire, bottle after bottle of wine shared between new friends, the illuminating flicker of candlelight, the oohs and ahhs of each course, and the content smiles as the sun set. Yes, it was a magical.

{Heirloom Tomato, Sage Farm Goat Dairy Feta, Lemon Basil, Shaved Red Onion & Olive Oil}

{Heirloom Tomato, Blueberry, Opal Basil, Balsamic Reduction & Roasted Garlic Aioli}

{Crudites with baba ghanoush}

{Local Cheese Board includingJasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and Sage Farm Goat Dairy Sterling, Madonna & Feta Cheeses}

{Fried Fromage Fritters (goat and cow’s milk) with sun-gold tomatoes and a balsamic drizzle}

{Crostini with farm fresh egg, cucumber, radish, dill & a roasted garlic farm egg aioli}

{Chard Sushi}





{House Made Farm Egg Tagliatelle Pasta with oven roasted cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomato sauce, arugula sprouts, roasted garlic cloves & basil}


{Mixed Beans with dill and brown butter}

{Roasted Potatoes, Cippolini Onions & Locally Foraged Black Trumpet Mushrooms}

{Cider-Brined Grilled Pork Loin, Braised Belly & Braised Leg with a late-summer apple reduction}



{House Made Basil Shortbread Biscuits with Macerated Madeira Berries & Lemon Cream}

We will be taking a little of that magic with us to Winston-Salem, NC.

{Thank you Schlosser Family!}


Only a week and half left until we move…


Until we find fresh inspiration again,

a + h

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A Lesson in ‘Shrooms {Wild Branch Mushrooms in Craftsbury Vermont}

Yesterday marked 30 days until we leave Vermont. And believe you me, we’re soaking up every last minute of each remaining day.

This week we went trail riding and I saw a BEAR (Harrison did not. That’s what happens when you race ahead.) We both ran our longest runs breathing deep and powerfully through the cool woods (sharing a nerdy high five at the end). He slaughtered a couple of chickens at the farm (a first for him; a pass for me). We hiked and hiked and hiked up a super steep mountain and, just as I started cussing under my breath, we reached the summit to take in a 360 degree so-glad-we-pushed-ourselves view.

It was a pretty awesome week. Oh and he even went foraging for some wild mushrooms in the woods and proudly brought home these beauties.

Hello wild oyster mushrooms.

And that wasn’t our only mushroom encounter this week.

Rewind back to a few weeks ago when Harrison joined the intern crew for a tour of Wild Branch Farm’s mushroom growing operation. That day he came home bragging about how insanely cool the whole process was. And I of course was then insanely jealous that I missed it. So the minute we heard about their burger/tour night, I was determined to get us back there. So last night we headed out to Craftsbury, Vermont to check it all out.

After we got our fill on feta and blue cheese stuffed grass-fed sliders loaded with homemade toppings like spicy sauerkraut, tomato basil salsa, fresh egg mayo, maple mustard and blueberry bbq sauce, we got off our hay bales and took a private tour around the farm with one of the owners, sweet Kris.


We learned that Wild Branch Valley Farm is a certified organic family farm located in the Wild Branch river valley of northern Vermont. There they grow a wide assortment of vegetables and flowers and raise grass-fed cattle, sheep and chickens.


And most notably for us, they also have their Wild Branch Mushroom operation on-site where they cultivate medicinal and culinary mushrooms inside some very impressive labs and grow rooms.

I have to say, after living in Vermont I’ve become pretty accustomed to touring fields and greenhouses. But the minute we stepped inside their filtrated lab room with Petri dishes, I knew that this was farming on another level. In the lab, we were able to see first hand how they grow cultures from the tissues of wild mushrooms (like those oyster mushrooms Harrison found earlier this week). From those cultures, mycelium develops. And through that mycelium, mushrooms are eventually born.

I had plans to walk you through the whole process in this post, but honestly, who am I kidding? I could barely keep up with all of the technical jargon flying around during the tour.  Pleurotus ostreatus. Substrate. Inoculation. Spawn. Seriously?

So instead, we’re redirecting you over here for a play by play from the experts. Or better yet, if you’re in the area give them a call and schedule a visit for yourself. Trust us. Farming can be mind-blowing folks –  a passionate marriage between science and art.

Until we have our minds blown again,

A + H

July Sunset Farm Dinner and Tour at Sandiwood Farm

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” ― Claude Monet

To watch them walk through the rows and rows of vegetables and select by hand those that will make the cut for our July dinner was surreal. For me it wasn’t too long ago that I ate out of boxes, cans, and frozen trays.  And this year has been a crash course on how to live, eat and prepare so much better. For this experience, I am forever grateful.

The late-July harvest was a beautiful masterpiece. Tomatoes were plump and beautiful. The snap peas had a perfect crunch. As we peeled the loads and loads of harvested garlic, the smell lingered on our fingers. The smells, the textures, the colors, the fresh-out-of-the-ground flavors were spinning through our minds as menu ideas were freely exchanged outside in the warm sun. Harrison and Sandi once again walked through which items would be at their peak that week with Sara. Together our chefs curated a lovely farm to fork menu for the 24 hungry guests who joined us that night.


There was a 50th birthday celebration at one table and intermixed at the other were new and old friends including an established Stowe concierge and an intrigued farm to table tour operator. Among the tables set with freshly picked flowers, garlic braids and tomatoes was a sincere appreciation for the love and dedication behind the evening’s food. As guests made introductions and shared stories at the communal dinner tables, a shared energy and enthusiasm was felt throughout the farm while a series of fresh, colorful courses were served just as the sun set.

{local cheese board}

{fresh vegetables with homemade carrot hummus topped with nigella seeds}

{poached beet skewers with lemon-basil vinaigrette}

{bruschetta with homemade heirloom tomato jam, fresh mozzarella and assorted basils}

{roasted summer garlic with grapeseed oil}

{homemade fromage stuffed bite-sized tomatoes with roasted garlic & opal basil}

{flatbread with heirloom tomatoes, green onion, opal basil and homemade white sauce}

{“the green machine”: flatbread topped with braised greens, fennel, green onion, cabbage, sugar snaps, red onion}

{flatbread with fresh farm blueberry, heirloom tomato, goat cheese. opal basil and balsamic reduction}

{homemade pappardelle pasta}

{7-hour smoked chicken with herb pistou}

{sautéed and grilled summer green veggies}

{farm fresh egg custard with chocolate ganache, fresh blueberry compote and wooly mint}


On behalf of Sandiwood Farm, we would like to invite you to our upcoming sunset dinners and farm tours. Each night will include a unique menu inspired by the week’s farm harvest.

Upcoming Dates
August 21
September 20
October 10

Time: 6:00pm
Cost: $50/per person
BYOB and BYO appetite

These intimate meals will be capped at 20 guests, so RSVP early!

To RSVP or learn more, please email Sara at maplesyrup@myfairpoint.net or call 802-888-2881

Until we find fresh inspiration again,  
A + H

June Sunset Dinner and Tour at Sandiwood Farm

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau

It rained. It poured. There was thunder. And lighting. In a word, the weather was – nasty.

It was the big debut of the new farm to fork dinner series at Sandiwood Farm. And the rain – that week of rain was spoiling all of our plans.

We began obsessing over those little details that we thought were ruined. No stunning sunset. No walking farm tour. Muddy grounds. Geesh … not even warm weather. “We should consider rescheduling”, we said. It’s our trial run and we were certain plan B just wouldn’t be as fun.

At least that’s what we had thought.

“It is what it is”, we repeated to one another as we pulled together to simplify the original plan. Without a word, we agreed to not give those uncontrollable details a second thought.

And so…

Behind the scenes, the harvesting room became an extra plating, prep and flower arranging station….


And our dinner table was reset family style in a greenhouse surrounded by growing tomato vines…


In the house, the kitchen came alive with direction and focus….

And the skies slowly cleared just in time for the evening’s guests to arrive.


The June dinner menu was inspired by the fresh organic produce and herbs harvested that day on the farm, along with other locally sourced ingredients. Crisp. Spicy. Crunchy. Green. Sandi and Harrison took a simplistic approach in their preparation. Flawlessly and respectfully the ingredients just shined.

{Fresh homemade cheeses + goat cheese from our friends at Sage Farm Goat Dairy}

{Warm bread freshly baked that afternoon by local baker/NECI Grad, Trenton Chamberlain }

{Veggie Summer Rolls filled with freshly harvested ingredients from the farm and homemade ponzu sauce }

{ Bruschetta: Homemade Chevre with farm herbs, arugula pesto and Wild Branch oyster mushrooms }

{ Cream of Zucchini Soup with herb and green garlic croutons. Topped with a curry creme fraiche drizzle }

{ Baby Lettuces, shaved radishes, edible flowers and grilled scape and Sandiwood farm maple vinaigrette }

{ Fresh tagliatelle pasta with homemade fromage blanc and seasonal farm veggies }

{ 7-hour smoked chicken with herb pistou }

{ First picked strawberry cobbler topped with decadent dulce de leche whipped cream }

And at the end of the night, just as the warm strawberry cobbler was served, a stunning electric pink sky emerged.

In the end, it turned out to be a magical evening… a special experience for new friends and old. All thanks in part to that darn rain.

On behalf of Sandiwood Farm, we would like to invite you to our upcoming sunset dinners and farm tours. Each night sure to offer its own pleasant surprises along with the latest in farm fresh delights.


Upcoming Dates

July 24

August 21

September 20

October 10

Time: 6:00pm
Cost: $50/per person
BYOB and BYO appetite
These intimate meals will be capped at 20 guests, so RSVP early!

To RSVP or learn more, please email Sara at maplesyrup@myfairpoint.net or call 802-888-2881

Until we find fresh inspiration again,
A + H

Fresh Strawberry Cobbler with Decadent Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream

The other week we were lucky enough to snag an invite from our good friend/farming sensei Sara over at Sandiwood Farm to join her on a strawberry picking field trip. So we loaded up one morning with the intern crew and headed over to “the spot”, Riverside Farm in East Hardwick, Vermont.

Riverside Farm is owned and operated by the lovely couple, Bruce and Judy Kaufman. The Kaufman’s are committed to “organic farming to cultivate a sustainable farming practice.” In their own words “one that is supportive of the earth, the people working on the farm, the people eating the food, and the community we live in. Real food for real people”. Well that sounds mighty nice and refreshing, eh?

It happened to be the first solid week of strawberry picking in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and we were in for a treat with rows and rows of plump strawberries up for grabs.

And H O L Y smokes it was a hot one too!! Judy shared that the heat actually speeds up the already short season and our timing couldn’t have been better to get in some of the best picking around. And so, after a quick tutorial on strawberry picking, we were off with buckets and Tupperware in hand (and coated in sunscreen from head to toe).

A Few Things We Learned:

1. The best time to pick strawberries is in the morning when the berries are still cool. Sunshine and heat quickly make the berries soft and then they tend to bruise easily.

2. Only solid red berries are completely ripe. Look for plump firm berries with a red tip. Unripe (white) or partially ripe berries will not ripen once picked. The ripening process actually stops once you pick them.

3. Smaller berries tend to be sweeter and more flavorful. Plus – they’re pretty freaking cute.

4. When you pick your berries, leave about ½ inch of the stem still attached.

5. It’s best to process your berries soon after picking. Berries stored more than 2 – 3 days will lose some of their fresh, bright color and tend to shrivel and deteriorate in quality.

6. You can easily freeze strawberries that you’re not planning to eat right away. Simply wash, cut off the green husks, and place them in a Ziplock bag removing as much air as possible. Perfect to have on hand for smoothies, jams, pies and cobblers… which we’ll show you  how to make! Keep on reading…

Why Pick Your Own?
Here’s an interesting tid-bit
: Did you know that commercial, store-bought strawberries continuously rank as one of the most contaminated common foods due to the use of pesticides? Even after washing store bought berries they still have significant levels of unnatural chemicals on them. YIKES! BUT not the case with organic, freshly picked strawberries like  those found at Riverside Farm. No pesticides means you can dive right in – plant to mouth. Perfect for me – professional taste tester.


And today for your strawberry indulging pleasure, we’re making you a Strawberry Cobbler topped with Decadent Dulce de Leche. Mmm…Let’s dive in, shall we?

Ingredients – for your filling

  • 2 ½ cups of sugar (taste your berries first for level of sweetness; you may want to adjust amount of sugar based on this)
  • 2 ½ cups of cold water
  •  ¼ cup of corn starch
  • 14 cups of fresh strawberries
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

1. Heat your sugar and (2) cups of water in a large pot until sugar dissolves.

2. In a separate bowl, add ½ cup of cold water to your corn starch to make a slurry. Then add to your sugar/water mixture.

3. Bring your mixture to a light boil so your corn starch activates. Then add your strawberries and lemon. Turn off heat.

Ingredients – for your topping

  • 3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • 6 Tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons of baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of softened butter

1. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients and sift.

2. Next mix in your softened butter. And mix until the butter becomes more like grains of rice.

3. Create a well in your mixture (similar to making biscuits except your mixture will be more like pancake batter).
 

To make your cobbler:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour your strawberry mixture in your baking pan(s). We used (2) 9×9 pans.

3. Spoon your topping mixture evenly across the strawberry mixture.

4. Bake on 350 for 15 – 20 minutes, or until your dough is cooked all the way through.

Decadent Dulce de Leche:

1. Take one small can of sweetened condensed milk. Boil in a medium pot on medium low heat for 2 – 3 hours. (Longer the time = Richer the Color)

2. Pop open the can after a couple of hours and fold into fresh whipped cream. Then pour over your cobbler for a sinfully good treat.

Enjoy!

Until we find freshly picked inspiration again,

A + H

Rhubarb and Chipotle Pork Tacos

Whew! We’re baaaaack. It’s been a hot minute but we’re back in the home cooking saddle again. A couple of new exciting developments to share before we pull out the pots and pans….

He Graduated! “Attend culinary school” once loomed on the bucket list after years of working in the family’s catering business. Completed – check!

And look who met Chef Daniel Boulud and Chef Gavin Kaysen.

Big day. Awesome!

And we moved…to beautifully green Stowe. We’ll be here for the summer cooking goodies to share from the cutest little red cabin in the woods. Thanks to Annie and Joey for opening up their home to us for the summer. We promise to take good care of her and we’ll make sure she always smells delicious.

And finally, we’re helping out (Ok it’s mostly Harrison) on an organic produce and flower farm until September. We get to play in the dirt and bright sunshine and score some gorgeous veggies for true farm to fork meals. Another bucket list item underway… double check!

Now that you’re officially up to speed … let’s jump back into the kitchen shall we?!

Today’s recipe was inspired by the ripe rhubarb growing in our new backyard. “Hmm… what should we make” we said. Pies, tarts, jelly…nah, c’mon it’s us. Of course we’re christening the new country crib with some killer rhubarb and chipotle pork tacos. Let’s let loose. Ole!

Ingredients: 

  • (2) small stalks of rhubarb – sliced thin
  • Half can of chipotles (7 to 8 ounce can)
  • (2) Pasilla Negro Chiles (dried and reconstituted)

  • (2) small yellow onions – julienned
  • (1) bulb of garlic – peeled and mashed
  • (1) can of organic tomatoes and green chilis
  • (3) bay leaves
  • (1/3) bunch of fresh cilantro (ours freshly picked from Sandiwood Farm)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • (1/2) teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • (1/2) tablepoon of dried oregano or (3) tablespoons of fresh oregano
  • (2) to (3) pounds of locally raised pork shoulder or butt – cut into chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

2. Brown off your pork in a large rondeau (or any other pot that you can transfer into the oven that allows room for the pork to be immersed in water to cook)

3. Remove your pork and set aside. Add your onion, garlic and rhubarb to your rondeau. Lightly sauté.

4. Add your remaining ingredients, including your pork, and a little water to cover your pork.

5. Cover your rondeau with foil and place in the oven for 4 – 5 hours until very tender.

6. Remove from oven and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes to rest. Then shred your pork and set aside for your tacos. (Tip: You can also sear your shredded pork in a pan with a little olive oil to crisp the outside and create a carnitas like texture…yum!)

7. Reserve your liquid with veggies and puree in a blender or food processor to make a hot salsa for your tacos.

8. Serve with tortillas, fresh salsa, chopped onion, fresh cilantro, scallion flowers and maybe a little pickled watermelon rind.

Enjoy!

Until we find fresh inspiration again,

A + H

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{Wishing all of you Dads out there a Happy Father’s Day today! To our Dads: We love you and thank you for all that you give and for your continued support as we navigate through this crazy thing called life. Today we celebrate you!}