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Previously in Patti's Garden

Patti on the farmDecember 12, 2008

I was doing my morning stretches and crafting in my mind a new newsletter opening extolling the beauty of the ice-covered fairyland outdoors when Ralph stormed in and announced that one of those lovely iced-covered pine boughs had smashed into the minivan, shattering the huge window and subsequently flooding the interior.......ah well, the good side is that while the van sustained all this damage, I was comfy and cozy in bed and we are all unhurt. I still plan on going to Amherst tomorrow for the farmers' market at Hampshire College, but please feel free to email or call later today or tomorrow if you were planning a special trip. If we can get things dried out and packed up by the end of the day, I'll go.

December 10, 2008

The year is winding to a close and I'm winding down too. These short days seem made for sleep - it seems that I barely get anything done and it's time for bed again.

I'm spending lots of time in front of the wood cookstove, stirring soups and flipping pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches. My friend Cindy's suggestion that I add a dash of Damson Plum preserve to a grilled, sharp cheddar sandwich, or a smidgeon of Red Currant with grilled provolone has spurred us to indulge.

Here is a brief update about what we've been up to and where we're going......

In the Kitchen

We've been making preserves every day since our back-to-back Thanksgiving shows emptied our pantry once again. (Giving us lots to be thankful for!) It's wonderful work, stirring the kettles as the fruit cooks down, inhaling the aroma of summer's berries. Ralph put in a Dutch door between the 2 kitchens so we can open the top and let all that good steam into our living space. We're heating with jam!

We've put up the new Auggie's Black Currant Preserve (it's tart - but with a lot of layers of flavor) and Rosie's Red Currant Preserve (it's tart too!) We won't have too much of either so order now if you're interested. I think we're back in stock with the other preserves, but with the Amherst Farmers' Market this weekend, supplies may dip again by next week. We'll keep making preserves as we need, but there may be a wait while a particular flavor sets up.

Elderberry Preserves (no longer available) and Elderberry Syrup continue to be a hit. I've been fighting off a cold and have really enjoyed the syrup in my tea and also right off the spoon to calm my throat. I'm still putting the syrup up in our regular hexagonal jar rather than a bottle. All of our bottles take corks and I want to be sure of a tight sealing lid that I can water-bath can. Since the ingredients are the same, I'm simply using the preserve label and hand-writing "Elderberry Syrup" on the lid. During the slow season I'll investigate bottling options, but I'm increasingly thinking of keeping the hexagonal jars for simplicity sake, and simply creating a new label for the syrup.

Mustard Supplies are good for Farmhouse Garlic, Lavender with Wildflower Honey and Chile Pepper. Raspberry Maple and Strawberry Honey are very low. Since mustards take a month to age, we won't be making more before the Christmas holiday and will gear up again in the early spring.

We're out of French Tarragon Vinegar and all of the vinegars are running very low.

And, in more Local News

Our Farmstead Preserves are now available locally, in Keene, NH! We've arranged with Hannah Grimes Marketplace, the artisan shop featuring New Hampshire products, to carry most of our Farmstead Preserves. So many local people have asked us to offer them in Keene, and Hannah Grimes is the place where people look for special, New Hampshire made products.

Cookbooks

We've been fortunate to be featured in two beautiful new cookbooks, one that's hot off the press. It seemed reasonable that some of you might find them interesting and inspiring, so we bought a case of each to offer them to you.

Fresh and Honest: Food from the Farms of New England and Kitchen of Henrietta's Table by Peter Davis, Chef at Henrietta's Table

We LOVE Henrietta's Table - a down to earth slice of reality amid the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square - named for a beloved pig who lived on a Martha's Vineyard farm. The restaurant was one of the first in the nation to establish connections with local farmers and fishermen. LIke the restaurant, the cookbook celebrates comfort food made from fresh, local ingredients. This cookbook reminds me of my mother's home cooking - recipes for favorites like chicken pot pie, Anadama bread, pumpkin pie and Indian pudding, for instance. It's also visually beautiful, with photos of farms and seacoast as well as fruits and food. We met Chef Peter Davis in the restaurant's early years and he became a dedicated customer for our products. We're proud to be featured on the restaurant's cheese platter with the finest New England cheeses, and in the cookbook next to a buttermilk biscuit recipe. Hardcover, 217 pages, $35.00

Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers - Beyond Leafy Greens - Inventive Salads with Beans, Whole Grains, Pasta, Chicken and More

Cathy is a chef on Martha's Vineyard as well as a writer and teacher of culinary arts in the Boston area. This beautiful book is full of creative combinations for salads that are easily the main attraction of a great meal. We were honored when Cathy proclaimed our Queen of Hearts Raspberry Vinegar "the Gold Standard" in the "Sources" section of the book. Like Peter Davis, Cathy has a long association with farmers and has been a long time supporter of Cheshire Garden. Heavy-Duty Softcover, 272 pages, $20.00

Four-legged Family Update

Hunting season is finally over and we can fly through the woods once more! YIPPEE! Barley and I have a little weight to work off. (Barley still can't stay out of the frozen streams so his blubber does work for him in some ways.) Rosie continues her vigilance to protect the bird feeders from the squirrels. As the moon grows fuller this passion extends into the moonlit hours and Lady Rosie Barksalot makes noise through the night....yawn.....Auggie the fluffy kitty determines who sleeps where in the bed and when we all rise (too early for me).

As the days grow shorter and shorter, it's hard not to fear the approaching colder, darker days that lie ahead. It may sound trite, but it is so true, it is always darkest before the dawn.

Sol Invictus! (The Sun Invincible!)

The Sun Returns! The winter solstice arrives on Sunday, December 21 and we take this opportunity to remember the four seasons past. We were blessed over and over with a bounty of berries, fruits and vegetables. We were also blessed with wonderful help in the hands of Elisha and Lara and their children whose laughter rang throughout the gardens and gave Ralph and I a lot to laugh at as well. And we've been blessed with wonderfully supportive customers who all feel like dear friends. Thanks to everyone who has tried our foods and enjoyed them, and thanks to everyone who has written to tell us so. My heart is so warmed by your kind words and photos of happy kids that I think of you everytime I stir the kettle. Thanks for letting me do what I love.

Bright Blessings to one and all and warmest wishes for a new year with health and happiness.

Love,

Patti (and Ralph!)

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