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The Art of Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2017 | No Comments

Chocolate + strawberries = heavenly.

Farm-fresh organic berries and decadent chocolate go together very easily for a wonderful dessert or gift.

We keep our fresh berries stocked at our farm stores in Granby and Montague and at summer markets during the month of June. You can also come and Pick Your Own! Or order in bulk on our website.  While this short season lasts, chocolate dipped berries are one of our favorite things to eat.

Six Tips for perfecting the art:

1.  Ripe strawberries are key!

You want sweet and flavorful berries.  When selecting the berries to dip in chocolate make sure they are ripe and red but not so ripe that they are mushy. Bright green greens of super-fresh berries are prettiest.

2. Keep them at room temperature.

Before covering them in chocolate, refrain from putting them in the fridge-let the berries sit on the counter for a bit, as water will condense on cold berries.

3. Wash AND dry!

When prepping your berries for chocolate make sure they aren’t wet.  Damp berries will cause the chocolate to clump and loose its smooth texture.

4. Choose the chocolate you love

– Use dark chocolate or milk chocolate bars or your favorite chocolate chips. Taza Chocolate is made in Somerville, MA, and their dark bars are wonderful for this.

5. Melt chocolate with a double boiler.

Put some water in a sauce pan and with heat-safe bowl on top.  The water in the sauce pan should be high enough to surround most of the bowl but not high enough that it gets in the bowl. Keep the water at a low simmer, put the chocolate with some milk in the bowl and stir until it melts!

6. Get creative!

Chocolate is perfect on its own on berries but don’t be afraid to personalize the recipe. Add some white chocolate drizzle, toasted coconut, sprinkles, slivered almonds, or crushed walnuts to your berries!

A Recipe for Making Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This recipe makes enough for a small batch. Double or so for more.

1 cup chocolate chips or broken up chocolate bar 
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil (this makes the chocolate smoother, shortening can be used also)
6-12 Strawberries

  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the coconut oil, mixing well ’til smooth. Prep a plate or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper on top. When the chocolate is smooth, hold the berries by the stem or greens and dip each berry in, twisting to coat each side. Then lay the berry on the parchment paper. They look pretty when you can still see some of the red top of the berry.
Put your full plate of berries into the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so to set the chocolate. Then they are ready to serve!

Additions to sprinkle on top right after dipping in chocolate:

Melted white chocolate, drizzled decoratively using a fork
Coconut flakes (toasted or untoasted)
Finely chopped nuts, like walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, or cashews
Salt or sugar crystals
Bacon crumbles (what?! 🙂
Pretzel shards


Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Posted by: on May 4, 2017 | No Comments

Take 1-2 bunches of asparagus, wash and trim. Lay on a baking sheet with a sliced red onion or chopped green garlic (optional). Toss with 3-4 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 2 tbs soy sauce.

   Bake at 400 until tender, or starting to brown. You can stir them once if you are like me and enjoy them cooked a little longer and browner. Sea salt to taste.

 Fresh organic asparagus at our stands in Granby and Montague in May and early June! Local asparagus is only around for a couple weeks. Not a bad idea to eat it daily while it’s here…



Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

Putting up pesto for winter is a great idea when basil is plentiful.  Once made, pesto freezes really well in ice cube trays or other portion-sized containers.  We have bulk basil available for ordering and also basil and parsley in the PYO patch.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup parsley sprigs
1/3  cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/3  cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until desired smoothness is reached.  Have with fresh diced tomatoes on pasta or a sandwich.

Freezing Summer Produce

Freezing Summer Produce

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

Having frozen peppers, zucchini, and eggplant on hand is perfect for lasagna, stir fry, pizza, pasta sauce, ratatouille, baked goods, and so many other recipes.

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Grate summer squash or zucchini or cut into slices. (Food processors are great here.) Blanch for 3 minutes. Toss into a strainer and rinse with cold water until cooled. Store in a freezer bag, in the freezer!

Many folks don’t blanch the grated version, and it preserves well. If you have a zucchini bread or other recipe you really like, freeze measured bags in the quantity that recipe requires.

Freezing Peppers 

Freezing peppers is the easiest preserving you can do! Just core out the seeds and cut out any bad spots, chop to your desired size, and freeze. No blanching needed. This is true of all types of peppers, green, colorful, hot, whatever you’ve got.
We just quickly chop them into big sections that are flat for fitting more in the freezer, and then cut those up to whatever size when we take them out for use.

And they are really great color and flavor to have later in the winter chopped up into sauces and stirfrys.
Freezing peppers ready for stuffing is really great also because they don’t need all the baking time to soften. Doing Jalapenos like that for filling with cream cheese is quite tasty.

Roasted Peppers

Heat broiler on high. Roast peppers whole on a sheet pan for 10 minutes. Rotate browned peppers and broil another 10 minutes. Throw into a pot and cover. When cool to handle, slip most of the skin off, de-stem and de-seed. Store in olive oil in the fridge or serve immediately.

Freezing Eggplant

Set aside a bowl of cold water. Cut the eggplant in half inch slices or strips and submerge in boiling water. This may be difficult since eggplants like to float, but be creative in keeping them underwater. When the water returns to a boil, wait 40 seconds and then remove and dump them in the cold water to stop all cooking. Place eggplant on a cookie tray and place in the freezer until eggplant is frozen. Frozen eggplant can now be bagged up and individual slices can be removed and defrosted for any of your midwinter cooking needs.

Quickles: Refrigerator Pickles

Quickles: Refrigerator Pickles

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

1 lb. pickling cucumbers 
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 T sugar
2 T kosher salt
1 t. mustard seed
1 t. whole peppercorns
1⁄2 t. red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh dill
5 cloves garlic, peeled

Evenly divide the garlic, dill and cucumbers among four wide-mouthed pint jars. You can cut up the pickling cukes however you want, from slices to halves, etc. (smaller slices soak up the flavor faster). You can pack as many cukes into the jars as possible, even more than the recipe calls for if there’s space.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, water, red pepper flakes, salt, mustard seed and dill seed to make a flavored brine. Use a funnel to fill each jar with brining liquid. If the cukes aren’t mostly covered, you can add a little more cold water and shake it up. Cap tightly and refrigerate at least one week before eating (or eat some right away and every day after, to see what they’re like:).

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

9 medium pickling cucumbers, sliced 
2 onions, sliced
2 Tbs. salt
1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1/8 tsp cayenne (opt)
1/4 tsp turmeric (opt)
1/8 tsp ground cloves (opt)

Use fresh cucumbers; trim 1/8th inch of the blossom ends off, wash and slice. Slice onions. Mix vegetables with salt and let stand 1 hour. Drain, and rinse with 2 cups cold water, draining that water away too. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery and mustard seeds (and any other spices) in a pot and heat to boiling. Cook 3 minutes.
Pack vegetables into jars (2-3 pint wide-mouthed jars), add hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Seal at once and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and store.

Spiced Pickled Summer Squash

Spiced Pickled Summer Squash

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

From Red Fire Chef Kristen Schafenacker, 2007 

2 lbs zucchini or summer squash
2 medium onions
¼ cup kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1+ cup sugar
2 t. mustard seed
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. celery seed
1 sliver fresh ginger

Place the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, ginger, red pepper, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sliced onions and bring to a boil. Pack canning containers tightly with squash and fill with hot brining liquid. Submerge closed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.



Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

From Sarah Voiland, 2011 

Sofrito is a delicious flavoring substance that is classic in Puerto Rican cooking. You add it to anything from rice and beans, to soups and slow cooker dishes, to omlettes, to sauces for meat dishes. Once made, sofrito freezes really well in ice cube trays or other portion-sized containers for winter!  It will also keep well in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

1 onion
1 green pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp oregano (more if fresh)
2-4 tbs olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp capers (opt.)
1-3 hot peppers (opt.)
1-2 roasted red peppers (opt.)
a few to a bunch of pitted olives (opt.)
Other optionals: black pepper, cayenne, paste tomatoes, cumin, culantro, annatto, celery, parsley, and many more!

No hard and fast recipe here! Something to play with! Multiply recipe for winter freezing. Wash, deseed, trim as needed. Chop into large chunks. Put all in blender, in batches if need be. I like to blend not as far as puree, but stop while there are still little bits of things, like tiny pieces of pepper and onion, discernible shards of herbs.

Mix everything in a bowl at the end if you did batches. Then refrigerate and freeze for later use. Or use some now!

To use, put some in a pan with oil and saute to meld the flavors before adding rice to boil or whatever it’s in your plans to make.
Lovely with red peppers too!

Tomato Sauce, Farmer-Style

Tomato Sauce, Farmer-Style

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

From Sarah Voiland, 2011

Here’s a quick description of how we make our sauce here, the short-cut way. We like to do just tomatoes, and then add our other sauce ingredients like onions, carrots, frozen peppers, garlic etc. in the winter when we go to use the sauce. Then you can make anything you want with it, from spaghetti sauce to tomato soup.

  1. We get lots of tomatoes and wash them and cut out the stem parts and bad spots.
  2. Then chop them in large chunks and puree them, skins, seeds and all in the blender or food processor.
  3. Then put the puree in a big pot, and bring to a boil then simmer on low, stirring, until you get the thickness you want. The real key is having a good pot with a thick bottom that will keep stuff from sticking and burning on the bottom, and keeping an eye on it. A stirrer with a flat bottom edge that you can swipe across the bottom of the pan is great.
  4. Once you have your thickness, you can it, using the boiling water method, 30 to 45 minutes or whatever your how-to-boiling-water-bath info source says. We’re a big fan of the wide mouth quart jars -easier to clean later on.
  5. Instead of canning, you can also freeze the sauce instead! Jars make great presents. Freezing is easier if you have room in your freezer.

Here’s a great resource for canning recipes and methods: The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Varieties of Tomatoes for Sauce 
You can make really flavorful sauces from mixed heirloom varieties. Heirlooms may take a little bit longer to cook down, but the flavor is great. Paste or Saucing Tomatoes have less juice and cook down faster, and also taste really good. I make big batches with the paste tomatoes, and then I like to make some batches with certain varieties of tomatoes, like an all Brandywine Sauce, and a sauce with only white, yellow and orange tomato varieties. Red Slicing types are great for salsa, and can also make good sauce with a little longer cooking time than with paste varieties.


Daikon Ginger Pickle

Daikon Ginger Pickle

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2016 | No Comments

From Sarah Voiland, 2013

This is a lactofermented recipe, so once you have made it, it will last a long time in your refrigerator as a topper to salads or condiment for sandwiches etc.

1 big daikon radish or enough to mostly fill a quart jar
1 inch of ginger
2 tbs salt (without iodine or additives)
1 quart water

Wash and then peel any tougher skin at the top of the daikon. Slice daikon thin, easy with a Cuisinart slicing tool. Slice up an inch of ginger, skin on is fine. Mix 2 tbs salt with 1 quart water. Fill a quart glass jar up with the diakon and ginger, pour the salt water over it to cover. Stick a glass of water (or something) on top to hold the daikon down under the level of the salt water. Cover with a cloth to keep dust out. Leave it on your counter for a few days, tasting as you go until you like it, then refrigerate.