Food makes me happy. And cooking for friends, gardening (on a little piece of a Brooklyn deck right now), and sharing tasty ideas makes me even happier. So I figured what better way to spread some of this happiness than to start sharing my food, recipes and tips with friends -- some of whom I haven’t met yet. I hope you enjoy...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Capturing Vermont in a Brown Paper Bag

Suggested listening while reading this post (it'll help set the mood):

I just got back from a long weekend in Vermont with my husband and friends who were sweet enough to host us (thanks again Alexis & Rob!).  I came home with some pure Vermont maple syrup from a neighbor's farm (Newell Hill Farm in West Wardsboro), wishing I could savor our time in the country just a little longer.   And so I thought I'd pack a lunch that reminds me of the trip.  I ended up with a warm, earthy, comforting meal that seemed to capture Vermont perfectly.   It actually smells (almost) like the country in our little Brooklyn apartment right now.  Mmm...

Maple turkey & caramelized onion "sloppy joe" with Vermont cheddar and Granny Smith apple
Makes more than enough for 3 sandwiches with a little extra for snacking along the way

- 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- Cinnamon and nutmeg (a hearty pinch each)
- 1 tablespoon of Vermont maple syrup
- Ground turkey (I used a 1/2 pound white breast and 1 pound dark thigh meat)
- 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
- 2 teaspoons concentrated chicken stock (I like to use Better Than Bouillon) dissolved in 1/4 cup of filtered water
- 1/3 cup finely chopped mixed herbs (to achieve a warm, earthy balance I used a blend from my garden of zaatar -- a middle-eastern wild oregano, silver thyme, sage, and golden oregano but you can adjust the mix to suit your taste)
- 1/2 pound of Vermont cheddar (you can use a little less, I like to snack as I go)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced


1) In a large pan or a dutch oven saute your chopped onions slowly over very low heat, seasoning them with some cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup; for this dish, I cooked the onions way down which took a little over an hour over the lowest heat

2) In a large bowl, mix together the white and dark turkey and stir in your herbs

3) Turn your heat up to medium and add the turkey and herbs to the sauteed onions (the higher heat will help the meat brown), stir everything together well and let your sloppy joe mixture cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes

4) Turn your heat back down to low and cook the mixture slowly for 20 minutes or so, adding in stone ground mustard and chicken stock to taste; the base mixture will be a little sweet from caramelized onions, and the mustard and stock will help round out the flavors

5) Once cooked through, serve the warm sloppy joe mixture on a hearty grain roll with Vermont cheddar and sliced Granny Smith apple

6) Enjoy!

Homemade "everything but the kitchen sink" maple granola
Fills 4 1-cup jars with a little to spare for snacking along the way

- 1/3 cup Vermont maple syrup
- 1/8 cup of vegetable oil (I like to use canola which has a very light taste)
- 1" of a whole vanilla bean OR 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Organic red wheat bran (about 1/4 cup)
- Rolled oats (2 cups)
- White sesame seeds (about 1/8 of a cup)
- Flaxseed (about 1/8 cup)
- Shredded unsweetened coconut (about 1/8 of a cup)
- Crushed pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup each)
- 2 finely crushed graham crackers
- Dried cranberries and sour cherries (1/2 cup total)
... Play around and feel free to adjust all of these ingredients to suit your tastes -- just make sure you've got a few cups of rolled oats which are going to be the main component of your granola

1) Preheat your oven to 250 degrees

2) In a small pot combine oil, maple syrup and your vanilla bean or extract; let that warm slowly over low heat while mixing together all of the other ingredients in a large bowl (except the dried fruit, which you'll add in after the mixture has cooked)

3) Remove the syrup, oil and vanilla bean mixture from the heat and mix it in with the dry ingredients

4) Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or non-stick foil and let it cook for about an hour and 15 minutes, taking it out and giving it a mix once or twice to ensure it cooks evenly (you can leave the vanilla bean in the mix while it bakes and remove when it's done)

5) Remove from the oven, add your dried fruit and either let cool or enjoy warm right away!

Vanilla iced coffee, with cinnamon sugar and cream 
In our french press I brewed a pot of bold french roast, and added about an inch of a vanilla bean to the hot coffee and left it in until the coffee cooled.  Then I mixed together some cinnamon and sugar (1/2 cup of sugar to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon is a nice mix and will stay for months).  Just about any ground cinnamon will do but I used a Chinese cassia cinnamon today.  My go-to place for most of my spices these days -- including those that are harder to find --  is Penzey Spices.  They have an outpost close by in Grand Central Station and you can also order from them online (

All of these warm, comforting smells coming from the kitchen are almost making me wish it were Fall.  Almost...

1 comment:

  1. having just eaten this, i must say that it was phenomenal. the mustard/onion/cheddar combination was fantastic, especially against the crisp and tart apple.