Posted in Baking, Dessert, Dinner, Easy Meals, family, Food, Health, Maine, Recipe, Uncategorized

Foraging Our Little Lot of Land

I found some blueberry bushes on our property a few weeks ago. We only have 2 acres.  But those two are filled with apple trees, blackberry bushes, a pear tree and several blueberry bushes. Most of which we didn’t know about before we bought the house.

A few weeks ago, when we found the blueberries, we had already missed out on the first round to ripen. Hundreds of blueberries littered the ground.  But that didn’t matter much. Our first haul garnered six and a half pounds of some of the biggest blueberries I have ever seen.
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I don’t even really like blueberries. I mean, they’re alright.  But finding them, picking them and cleaning them has brought something out in me that I didn’t know was there.  A foragers instinct that I’ve never explored.  Every few days I’ll go and survey the land.  I’ll take my colander just in case anything is ready to be picked.  I’ll stop by my pear tree, check on the one pear that still hangs.  At one time there were 2 pears on it, but something got one of them.  After I confirm that the pear, is in fact, still in the tree, I move on to the blueberry bushes.  I pick what I can.  Trying to contain my excitement at the bounty so as to not pick any before they’re ready.

Next, I move on the apple trees.  When we did our home inspection before we bought it last year, our inspector was pretty impressed by how old the trees appeared to be. Upon inspection of the apples, some research, and a professionals opinion we have concluded that these are Baldwin apples.  One of the oldest types of apples there is.  First introduced to Maine in the late 1700’s.  They are great for making pies, apple sauce, and cider. A couple of friends came over for dinner the other night and they tried some of the apples. The smaller one they tried was still tart, but the bigger one was sweet.  They should be great for baking.

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I told my husband the other day that I wanted to be a farmer.  He looked concerned.  I assured him that I meant as a hobby, not a profession.   We are going to work our way up to getting some chickens next spring, I think.  In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I could keep something alive, other than humans and dogs.  So I started a herb garden.  So far so good.  Much better than my succulent garden last year.

 

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As the weather changes and fall creeps in, the thought of all the baking and cooking possibilities with these provisions gets me even more excited for fall than I usually am.  I’ve already tried out a few recipes that I’m excited to share here soon.  So keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Blueberry Lemon Freezer Jam
  • Homemade No-Churn Blueberry Ice Cream
  • Tomato Basil Bisque

More will be added as soon as the apples ripen.

 

 

Posted in Baking, Dessert, Food, Recipe, Uncategorized

Elephant Ear Cookies

My mom is staying with us for a little while and for those of you who know her, you know her baking skills are on point.  Our counter has been covered in homemade desserts since her arrival.  Last week I had to put my foot down.  I said, “Mom, seriously we cannot possibly make one more thing until what we have is gone.”  She looked a little disappointed. But, in just a few short days, what we had, had been devoured and we are on to the next sweet treat.

This cookie has been a constant in my mothers’ repertoire from the very beginning.  She told me yesterday that this is the first thing her mother let her bake by herself.  I’ve always wondered where the name “Elephant Ear” came from and finally got around to asking her.  She has no idea.  But they are delicious nonetheless, and the curious consistency is unlike any other chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.  In an amazingly good way.

 

The Recipe

 

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Normally I’d type out the ingredients and instructions, but there was something about this recipe card in my mom’s handwriting that made me want just to post it like this.  I hope you try them and absolutely love them like my family and friends have through the years.

Posted in Dinner, Easy Meals, family, Food, Recipe

Very Cheesy Mac ‘N Cheese

A very good friend of mine taught me how to make homemade macaroni and cheese.  She is an amazing chef and has worked in some of my favorite restaurants in Portland, Maine.  I think a lot of people make theirs by adding shredded cheese directly to the macaroni and baking it.  This recipe is very different.  In this one, you make a cheese sauce and just about drown the macaroni in it before baking.  And because of this, the left overs are still perfectly cheesy.  I hope my rendition of her recipe will do her and her amazing dish proud.

Ingredients:

  • 1, 1lb box of pasta.  Pick your noodle.  I usually go for a medium shell.
  • 4 Tbsps of Butter
  • 2 Tbsp of Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Roughly 1/2 a quart of half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheese blend.  This is really where I can leave it up to you.  Any type of cheese you want will probably be fine.  Sometimes I make it with all cheddar and other times I throw a softer cheese in the mix, like gruyere or Monterey jack.

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook macaroni until completely done.  Make sure the water is very well salted.  While that’s boiling, make a roux.  Melt butter in a medium sized pot.  Once melted, add flour and whisk. The roux should be a fairly thick consistency.  If it seems too thin, add more flour.  Add half a quart of half & half.  Whisk together well.  Once the mixture has heated up a bit (but before it’s boiling) add the cheese mixture, stirring constantly.  The sauce will thicken as the mixture reaches a simmer.  If cheese sauce gets too thick, add more half & half.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

When pasta is done, strain and put in an oven safe casserole dish or large bowl.  Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and stir together.  Put in the oven for 10 minutes and serve.

Other Variations:  Feel free to play around with this.  Everyone has a staple way they make homemade Mac N Cheese.  Don’t be afraid to try something new or add something to the dish.  Sometimes I cook kielbasa and add it to the dish before I bake it.  I’ve also cooked very crispy bacon, chopped it up and put that in there. Sometimes I put crushed Ritz crackers on the top. I’ve also put seasoned, crushed breadcrumbs on top.  Make it your own.  There is no wrong way to do this.  Unless it tastes terrible, then you have in fact done something wrong.  But I’m sure you’ll be fine.