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