Saturday, January 25, 2014

Farmer's Market (Rollinsford, NH)

I am lucky to be off from work this weekend.  The weather is gray and cold outside so my husband and I decided to visit the Winter Farmer's Market located in Rollinsford, NH.  The market was well attended by many people with the same idea--in search of good locally raised and farmed food!! Fortunately for us it was held inside in one of the warm Wentworth greenhouses.  There were lots of vendors selling all sorts of interesting produce and prepared food.  I reconnected with people I have met in the past and made a few new contacts.  My husband and I ate some delicious omelets and potato pierogi while listening to live music.  I tracked down Sherrie from Cracked an Egg Farm and purchased a rabbit from her.  Thank you, Sherrie!!

Kellie Brook Farm

some items were so popular that they were SOLD out!

picking fibers to make yarn

Riverslea Farm
(Epping, NH)

2 friendly faces from Brandmoore Farm

colorful jams

why travel to Italy for fresh pasta when you can
visit Valicenti Organico in NH for equally good pasta?

Garen's Greens at Riverside Farm
where you can find fresh vegetables & prepared foods
(you can purchase tasty giant potato pierogi
from Garen (pictured on right)!!

from The Glass Bead Tree
Stacy Weeks Schoell hand made all these beautiful jewelry
check out her site:

from Green Parrott Designs
(North Berwick, ME)
you can purchase their colorful yarn
Carrie Cahill Mulligan
Heirloom Handknit Hats
check out her site:
(the large hat in the foreground is what
the hat looks like before it is complete)

Carrie's final product (hat) is creative,
beautiful and will keep your head warm!!

meyer lemon flowers

sign of Spring despite
high of 33 degrees F and large piles
of snow on the side of the road

Beef Stew II (serves 6)

We have had record low temperatures in the Northeast U.S. this winter.  This simple beef stew helped keep my tummy full and my house warm!  

You can use any type of cheap cut of beef for this stew.  This beef bottom round roast was available cheaper than the beef that was labeled "beef stew" at the grocery.  You can use other types of meat for this stew that are available to you.

I heard about filé powder when I first traveled to New Orleans (LA) many years ago.  It is considered an herb made from ground sassafras tree leaves.  It is used in Cajun and Creole cooking to thicken soup and stew.  I have some available at home so I decided to use a little to thicken my stew.

2-3 Tbsp canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil
4 pounds beef bottom round roast,  trimmed off fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 white onion, diced
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
32 oz beef broth (low sodium, low fat)
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green plantain, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz button mushrooms, cut in half
2 bay leaves (optional)
3 sprigs of dried thyme (or 4-5 fresh)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon beef base, reduced sodium (optional)
1 tsp filé powder (optional)


1) Heat oil in a large pot (cast iron if you have one) over medium high heat.  Once the pot is hot add 1/2 of the beef and let it sear on each side.  It may take about 10 minutes to sear all of the meat.
2) Once all the meat is seared, return all of the meat in the pot.  Add onion, tomatoes and celery.  Let it all cook about 10 minutes.
3) Add beef broth, carrot, potatoes, plantain, mushrooms, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and beef base.  Cover the pot and let it cook in medium low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is soft to your liking.  Add filé powder, stir and turn off heat.

*I like using my large cast iron pot for cooking stew or soup since it retains the heat well and saves energy. You can dredge the beef in all-purpose flour prior to searing.  This method will thicken your stew later.
*You can add other vegetables for your stew.  I saw some good looking green plantains at the market so I bought one to add to this stew.  The green plantain has similar texture to breadfruit or potatoes.
*If you do not have Better Than Bouillon beef base, reduced sodium you can omit it.  This beef base adds extra flavor to the stew.  You can make similar beef base if you have time.  
*I grew some herbs in my garden.  Before the weather got too cold I harvested all of my unused herbs, washed them well and let them air dry in my kitchen.  Once dried I bagged them to use during the winter months.  Thyme is a great herb for drying.
*You can serve this stew with pretty much anything.  I served this stew over egg noodles (pasta) and some blanched Chinese broccoli.

orchid I

orchid II

*These orchid photos came from my most recent photo shoot at the Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford, NH.  If you cannot escape to a tropical destination you can visit this place to view many of the plants for inspiration.  If you have even the slightest green thumb you can even purchase a few plants to take home and admire them longer.  The colorful flowers certainly brightened my cold and gray day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pork Feet & Bitter Melon Soup (serves 4-6)

There is a reason bitter melon is called "bitter" because it is!  Not everyone enjoys the taste but I like eating them.  Sometimes these melons are stuffed with ground pork and then cooked in a soup.  When I eat these stuffed melon soup I tend to eat the melon and not the meat.  I decided to make an alternative soup without the usual stuffing.   I used pork feet for my soup base. The weather outside dropped to single digits (8 degrees F) and making this soup keeps my kitchen warm and toasty!

Pork Feet & Bitter Melon Soup (serves 4-6)


2 lbs pork feet, cut into 1-inch slices (have your butcher do this)
10 C cold water
2 bitter melons (about 2 lbs), halved, innards removed, cut into bite size
1/2-1 onion. peeled, washed (keep whole)
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 C roughly chopped cilantro (more for garnish later)
2 scallions, chopped (more for garnish later)


1) In a large pot add the pork feet slices and enough water to cover the feet.
2) Over medium high heat let water boils for about 15-20 minutes until there is a lot of impurities that float to the top.
3) Remove the pot from heat.  Don't turn off the stove top.  Use a knife and scrape the pork skin to clean and wash each slice in cold water until it is completely clean.  Wash your pot well.
4) Add the cleaned pork slices back into the pot and add 10 cups of cold water and onion.  Cover the pot.
5) Once the water boils, turn heat down to low and let the water boils gently.  Add the bitter melons, salt and fish sauce.
6) Let everything cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the pork and melons are soft to your liking.
7) Add cilantro and scallions.  Turn off heat and let everything cooks further in the pot.  Discard the onion after cooking.
8) Add extra fresh cilantro and scallions garnish on top of the bowl before eating.  This will help brighten your dish!

bitter melons on vine
*You can certainly add more salt or fish sauce according to your taste.  As I have mentioned in past postings I don't particularly enjoy salty food.  Also, some people are very sensitive to salt intake and eating even a small amount can affect their health adversely.  
*This is not related to food but if you are in healthcare and would like to learn how to suture for work, pork leg is a great way to practice.  If you learn how to place sutures in pork skin then you will be a pro on humans since the pork skin is much tougher!!

Below are a few photos of the recent snow in Boston where the temperature dropped to single digits. The single digit temperature is tolerable but the wind chill made it feel much colder.  It reminded me of my past life living in Maine and Minnesota! 
Boston Public Garden (2014)

George Washington monument (2014)

one of the many historic trees in the park,
even the trees looked cold
--if this is possible!
(Boston, 2014)

one of the streets in
Bay Village (2014)

snowy and windy in Bay Village (2014)

a hint of warmth from the historic gas lamps
on a Bay Village street this snowy day

(making paper snowflakes while the soup is cooking
--to decorate my bland office door at work)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year--Boston 2014!!

midnight fireworks
night view of Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House
night view from Boston Common
I want to thank you for following my food blog!  I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year!  May you always eat tasty food!!       --From my kitchen to yours