Celebrate Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin spice has been in season for a while now but it is finally PUMPKIN season!  I ordered two cans of pumpkin this week with my groceries. That way I’ll have some on hand when the pumpkin baking begins.  They always seem to run out close to Thanksgiving when everyone is making pumpkin pie, so now I am prepared for once.  I actually don’t have any plans to make pumpkin pie but I will be making pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies. I’ll be sure to post the results on Instagram with the recipes too. 

This weekend we’ll head out to Secor Farms for their hayrides, animal farm, pumpkin patch, corn maze and probably some apple cider and apple cider donuts. Maybe we’ll even have some hot chocolate if we’re feeling very decadent.  That gives us just a few days to decide how we are going to decorate those pumpkins before Halloween. If all goes as planned one will turn into a proper jack-o-lantern with an electric candle and the other will be decorated with paint or markets. The pumpkins will become a part of our decor through the fall and into the winter(until the Hanukkah decorations come out!).   

Head over to our Pinterest Board The Great Pumpkin for more pumpkin inspiration.  What is your favorite part of pumpkin season?

Happy Friday,

Julie

A walk through the Farmers Market & beyond

Imagine yourself strolling the aisles of the Farmers Market on a brisk fall morning, maybe with a hot coffee or hot spiced cider in hand, browsing the beautiful bounty of the fall season. Although the early morning hours have yet to be kissed by Autumn’s crisp lips, cooler days are soon upon us, and with them comes an incredible array of fall produce. There is nothing I enjoy more on a fall morning than waking with the rising sun, brewing a cup of coffee, and traveling to the Union Square Farmers Market to be windswept through the smells, colors, and tastes of the fall harvest. Since I am not Winter’s biggest fan, I try to enjoy every moment of the fall season, knowing all too well how short lived it is. Even in New York City, the fall air is painted with notes of caramel, cinnamon, hazelnut, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and ginger, the quintessential fall flavors that play in such perfect harmony with one another, seeming to dance through the bustling streets. It’s pure magic. Please, if you have yet to do so, find your nearest farmers market and take yourself there on a fall morning and taste anything and everything that you can. You’ll be so happy that you did!

It’s hard for me to name a favorite fall farmers market find, but apples are near the top of my list. We are so lucky that New York state is home to some incredible apple orchards, growing a vast variety of apples, so whether you like crisp and sweet, crisp and tart, or any combination in between, you’re nearly guaranteed to find the perfect apple! I love apples for their versatility, as they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, served cooked, raw, hot or cold, apples add a little magic to any recipe they touch. I add cubed Gala or Braeburn apples to my morning quinoa and oatmeal porridge to add a delicious sweetness and crisp texture. In combination with a touch of cinnamon, a dash of pure vanilla extract, and a generous drizzle of almond butter, this is the perfect ‘get up and get moving’ fuel! Pancakes are my breakfast of choice on Sunday mornings, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee, so you best believe that all pancakes that I consume in the fall months contain apples. Make your favorite pancake batter, I always add cornmeal to my pancake batter to add texture and create a more complex flavor, and ladle onto a hot griddle. While the pancake is cooking on the first side, I thinly slice a Honeycrisp apple, with the skin on, and right before the pancake is ready to flip, add a layer of sliced apple on top of the pancake, sprinkle with a little apple pie spice, flip, and let cook through. This pancake is magic! The apples become slightly tender and caramelized and adds so much depth to your basic pancake.  Apples are also a delicious addition to meat or poultry, add before roasting, as they caramelize in the oven and release a syrupy sweetness that compliments the savory meat so well.

One of my other treasured farmers market Autumn finds are squash and pumpkins. There are so many varieties to choose from and endless ways to cook with them. As I’ve mentioned countless times, I’m a sugar junkie, so I’m always dreaming of pastries and other sweet creations. One of my favorite things to do with a sugar pumpkin is to roast it low and slow with a sweet apple, like Gala or Honeycrisp, until it is very tender and caramelized. I then puree it, creating a pumpkin pie filling far superior to any canned version! Use this puree for pumpkin cinnamon rolls, my all time favorite fall treat, served with maple cream cheese icing — I’ll do you all a major favor and post this recipe in the coming days! This puree can really be added to anything, like oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes, so on and so forth! I also use it to create a simple pumpkin butter bursting with fall flavor. To make, simply add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pecans to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Enjoy on toast, spiced cornmeal waffles, or evenbetter, by the spoonful! For a savory option, I cube butternut squash, kabocha squash, or acorn squash, and roast with thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper, and served chilled as a salad component. You could also turn roasted squash into a beautiful fall soup! Squash add a lovely buttery, nutty, and sweet note to any recipe, so it a very versatile fruit to cook with.

As the air begins to breathe a cooler breeze, I find myself craving pastries and baked goods more than usual. The bake stands at the farmers market always seem more magical, more alluring, to me during the fall months. Teeming with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove, the baked goods throughout the farmers market seem to scream my name. Body & Soul Bakery makes some amazing vegan pastries, ranging from muffins, to cookies, to cinnamon rolls. My favorite items being the apple spiced muffins and miniature pumpkin pies, which both pair amazingly well with a hot cup of coffee or hot cider. There are countless other bakeries offering a wide array of breads and pastries, which during the colder months, I feel are more common to crave.

To end my farmers market excursion, I’m always sure to pick up a few ingredients for a craft cocktail. There is nothing I enjoy more than a warm, warming cocktail on a cool fall or winter evening. I love mulled wine, spiked cider, and a hot toddy. If it’s hot and boozy, I certainly won’t say no. There are a few amazing craft distillers at the Union Square Farmers Market, so if you’re like me and enjoy a hot toddy, be sure to pick up a nice bottle of whiskey. If you’re more the cider or mulled wine type, pick up an assortment of apples, ranging from sweet to tart, peaches, prunes, plums, and grapes. There are countess recipes for mulled wine and spiked cider online, so do a little research before picking your poison. To make both, its really as simple as infusing either wine or apple cider with spices and fresh fruits in a saucepan over medium heat, portion the hot liquid out into glasses, and then topping off with a shot of liquor.

I love fall and all of the beautiful and delicious produce it yields. Treat yourself to a morning of culinary exploration, right as the sun rises, before the crowds arrive, with a lovely hot drink in had. I can almost assure you that you won’t be disappointed. You can thank me later.

Happy Friday!

Payton

 

A Wedding Upstate

This past weekend, I assisted in catering a wedding at Gilbertsville Farmhouse in upstate New York… and let me tell you, the beauty of upstate is unparalleled this time of year. As we ascended the Catskills Mountains en route to the wedding venue, we were welcomed by a gentle summer rain, which only seemed to enhance the mystic beauty of the surrounding forestry. Wildflowers of every hue painted the surrounding landscape, bridging our seemingly magicless world with the realm of universal intelligence, a beauty far beyond human reach, intensified by a billowing fog dusted across the tree-line. The venue, a converted barn and milking parlor, was equally as beautiful, a chic upgrade from its original intention, now studded with linen drapes, chandeliers, pillar candles, lounges made from hay bales, and expansive gardens. A converted Airstream camper turned photo-booth was one of the main attractions, nestled perfectly among vintage upholstered lounge chairs surrounding a roaring open fire, adding to the ambiance of this boho-chic affair. Picturesque beauty surrounded by the most incredible natural setting made me remember how lucky we are as New Yorkers to live so close to untouched nature.

The food, although I may be biased, was equally as stunning. An array of bright, plant-based culinary creations played in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. A low-fuss, yet high-end application was the perfect juxtaposition to the livestock barn turned wedding venue ambiance of the property. The first course, accompanied by the playful sound of a live band, was a beautiful summer salad embellished with a rainbow of edible flowers. In addition to the plated salad, servers passed hors d’oeuvres in the likes of Tomato Tartare with Sriracha Aioli, Crispy Cauliflower atop a Buckwheat Waffle with a Smoked Bourbon Maple Syrup Syringe, Artichoke Oyster with Mushroom Ceviche and Seaweed Caviar, and Tomato Gazpacho with Mini Grilled Cheese just to name a few. For the main course, guests were allowed to choose between lobster mushroom ravioli, steak spice grilled carrot, or chick’n picatta, all equally beautiful and delicious, orchestrated perfectly with seasonal vegetables. The star of the show for me, however, was the milk and cookie bar, an ode to the old milking parlor the venue used to be, where guests were greeted with with a dozen different cookie options, as well as miniature milk bottles filled with vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate almond milk, a monogrammed souvenir that the guests could bring home with them. In addition to the milk and cookie bar, there was also a miniature hand-pie bar, as well as a donut bar, playing in harmony with the rustic tones of the event. Needless to say, the food was nearly as beautiful as the surrounding nature it was enjoyed in.

I think it’s easy to forget how close we are to our next adventure, looking to other states or countries to satisfy our exploration needs, but my short four hour drive from Brooklyn to Gilbertsville, New York reminded me that we are surrounded by unscathed beauty and natural phenomena. From mountain hikes, rafting explorations, bike trails, holistic health and yoga retreats, and hilltop castles turned hotels, we are within a days trip of some spectacular adventures, some of which are housed at Gilbertsville Farmhouse. Not only is the property used as a wedding venue, it also boasts a lakeside cabin, a number of yurt inspired ‘glamping’ tents, and goat yoga, a property built for weddings, retreats and group getaways alike. It is so refreshing to get out of the city, even if just for a day to enjoy nature and the beauty that surrounds us. If needing a moment of tranquil relaxation, I would suggest a simple road trip upstate to realign and recenter. Pack a picnic, a good book, a bathing suit, and a pair of hiking shoes, and set out to explore the beauty of nature, and if you’re up for a little ‘glamping’ checkout Gilbertsville Farmhouse to see what yurt life is all about.

Happy travels!

Payton

 

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

We all know Thomas Jefferson as one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and the third president of our country.  Today, April 13th, marks his birthday.  While Jefferson was a very influential in writing the Declaration of Independence and made many great contributions to our country, he is often overlooked for his influence on farming and his love of food.

As a farmer, Jefferson was obsessed with new crops, soil conditions, scientific agricultural techniques, and garden designs.  His main cash crop was tobacco, although it was rarely profitable.  Jefferson tried to achieve self-sufficiency with many vegetables, wheat, corn, hogs, and cattle to supply his family, slaves, and employees. Unfortunately, he was always in debt due to his other interests.  Among other interests, Jefferson was an inventor.  He is credited with making the moldboard plow.  This plow allowed farmers to turn the top soil on their fields and greatly reduce the time needed to prepare a field.  This in turn allowed farmers to work a larger area of land.

Thomas Jefferson was also interested in wine and considered a gourmet of his time.  As president, Jefferson, is remember for his elaborate entertaining.  Meals often consisted of wild fowl including pheasants, partridges, and wild pigeons.  Even when he wasn’t entertaining President Jefferson often began his day with Squab baked in a flaky crust or beef tongue.  He loved exotic fruits like pineapple and always had a supply of fresh-baked bread.  Jefferson continue to enjoy these foods beyond the end of his term.

As you can see Thomas Jefferson wasn’t only important in the founding of our country but was also a key player in adjusting the social norms around growing and eating food!  I can relate to his love of dining and entertaining. I also see that he set the precedent that our nation’s leaders should be a renaissance man with many different passions.

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

Happy Friday,

Julie