Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dinner with Julia - A Christmas Present to Myself

Monday Morning Post

In case you're wondering why my Monday morning posts are showing up on Thursday or Saturday or the following week, it's because my blog host(Blogspot.com) seems to be having trouble and I can't always get on to blog. I thought this was just a loading blip but I researched it a little this AM and found that it's a common problem they're working on.

So, I'll keep plugging away until they fix it. I'll blog when I can, but I'll still strive for Monday morning.

I bought myself a Christmas present of the Julie & Julia DVD and have been watching it non stop since then. It is by far one of my favorite movies!

The movie encouraged me to get out my old copy of Julia'a Mastering the Art of French Cooking which I bought many years ago - some where around 1970 or so.

It's still in pristine condition because I never cooked anything from it. Oh, I skimmed the pages when I got it, only to decide (wrongly) that the recipes were too difficult and too time consuming to prepare.

Now, some 40 years later, I actually started to read the book and discovered that the recipes are purpose-ly long because Julia wanted to explain in detail what you need to do to have the dish come out perfectly. (Is this how people treat my recipes & cook books? They don't really read them and make the recipes in a hap-hazzard way? Oh, my.)

Anyway, I followed Julia's instructions about not skipping steps or doing things differently - even though I thought I knew better.

Well, my dears, just like in the movie, I stood over my pots of simmering stew and fluffy bowls of gossimer icings, spoon in hand and sighed, yum, over and over again.

Oh, the complexity of flavors. It was art for the palate. I am so in love with her cooking!

Yesterday, I made Coq au Vin and Orange Frosted Sponge Cake. It took me the whole day but when dinner time rolled around, it was food for the gods.

I wanted to lick the plate clean.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Great Holiday Cookie Check Up

Monday Morning Post

Cookies not coming out like they used to?

The problem isn't you, it's your ingredients!

1. Always use name brand butter.
Store brands and no brand butter can vary widely in the amount of water it contains. Water makes cookies spread. Name brands are consistent.

2. Never bake with margarine.
Margarine is not reliable. Even if your recipe calls for margarine, they'll turn out better with butter.

3. Use name brand flour.
Like butter, store brand and no brand flour is inconsistent. Their protein contents can vary widely resulting in a whole lot of problems from tough cookies to dough that's impossible to roll. Find a name brand you like and stick with that.

4. Check your sugar.
Always use 100%, regular grind sugar without any additives. No dextrose. No superfine grind. Read the labels, even it's a brand you've used for years.


Q. I want to cut a cookie recipe in half but it only calls for 1 egg.

How do I measure 1/2 an egg?

A. The average large or extra large egg measures about 4 tablespoons.

When you only need 1/2 an egg crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it well.

Measure 2 tablespoons for your recipe.

Save the remaining 2 tablespoons for another recipe or add it to your compost pile.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Hors d'oeuvres Workshop 2009

Monday Morning Post

It was snowing outside but it was toasty warm inside as we got into the kitchen and whipped up batches of easy, elegant and oh, so yummy holiday hors d'oeuvres.

We made dozens of gooey treats and the group went home with even more recipes to try out at their own holiday parties.

Here's the high lights:
Crab Cocktail Spread
Chilled Turkey Breast with White Wine and Mustard Sauce
Bubbling Brie with Cashews and Caramel
Pineapple Rum Sausages
Merry, Cherry Tomatoes
Mini Ruben's
Brie with Ported Cranberries

We sampled wine and pumpkin nog. Class participants were happy to take home the leftovers!

From Fast & Fabulous Holiday Hors d'oeuvres Workshop at Cheesecake Farms

Pumpkin Nog
No alcohol in the very healthy holiday drink but no one will ever know!

Makes 1 quart nog

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 large piece fresh ginger (about 1 1/2 inches long - peeled and sliced into thirds)
1 quart milk, light cream , half & half or combination (soy or coconut milk is OK)

In a small pot, whisk water, sugar, spice & ginger together. Cover. Bring to a boil on high. Remove cover. Cook, whisking, until sugar dissolves - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Remove ginger and discard. Chill.

At serving time, combine with milk or cream.


Want more recipes and ideas?
Couldn't Make The Workshop?

Get all 16 hors d'oeuvre recipes from the workshop for just $6.95 at http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

6 scrumptious punch, nog, wassail & liquor recipes
4 easy desserts for a crowd recipes
How to Choose and Serve A Good Wine
Party Time!
(Tips to make your party memorable for the guests and easy on you)

That's 26 recipes plus
How to Choose and Serve A Good Wine and Party Time!

Your party will be a smash!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In the Kitchen with Karla - Fast & Fabulous Holiday Hors d'oeuvres Workshop

Monday Morning Post

Hungry for some new ideas for the holidays?

Come to my Cooking Class Workshop!

Learn the tricks of the trade
Whip up yummy hors d'oeuvres in less time than you think for fabulous (and easy) entertaining.

"Fast & Fabulous Holiday Hors d'oeuvres"
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Noon till 2 PM.
Demo and participation class and tasting.

Hurry - Limited Seating

Click Here To Find Out More

Out of the area?
Can't make the workshop?

Recipes will be available after the class.

Email us @ CheesecakeFarms.com for details.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vegetarian Pumpkin Pie

Monday Morning Post

This egg-less, milk-less tofu pumpkin pie recipe is so easy and so surprisingly good, you should volunteer to bring the dessert.
Just call it "Pumpkin Pie" - no need to scare people.


Makes 10 servings
This recipe was tested using a 9 inch round X 1 1/2 inch deep Pyrex pie pan


1 (12 to 14 oz.) package firm tofu
1 (15 to 16 oz.) can pumpkin (2 cups - not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/8 teaspoon regular salt)
1 (9 inch) deep dish, unbaked pie shell (purchased or home made)

Position oven rack so pie will bake in the lower third. Preheat to 400 degrees.

Remove tofu from package. Gently rinse under running tepid tap water. Drain.

Put everything (except pie shell) into a food processor. Pulse until combined then blend until very smooth - 2 to 3 minutes. Remove lid of processor. Scrape down the bowl. Replace cover and continue blending until very smooth.

Meanwhile, put empty pie shell onto a cookie sheet (to catch drips) and place into the preheated oven. Bake 20 minutes. (No need to put pie weights on the dough.) Remove partially baked crust from oven and lower temperature to 350 degrees.

Working quickly and carefully, fill crust with the tofu mixture. Filling will not spread during baking so make sure it looks nice before you put it back into the oven.

Return pie to oven. Continue baking an additional 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set to a very light touch and the crust is brown on the bottom. Filling should be slightly puffed 1 inch wide around the perimeter of the pie. Do not over bake.

Remove pie from oven. Let cool 1 hour at room temperature then lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours before attempting to cut. Overnight is better.

Refrigerate leftovers up to 3 days.

Karla's Tip:
Pumpkin pie spice is not recommended. Ground cloves, typical of this spice blend, makes the tofu taste ash-y. Using the recommended spices in this recipe totally mask the tofu taste. No one will be able to tell!

Got too much filling for your pie shell? Put it into a custard cup or two (spritzed with baking spray) and bake along with the pie.

Don't forget to put your pie on a cookie sheet to catch drips during baking.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Loss Leaders Bring Home The Bacon (well, actually turkey) This Thanksgiving

Monday Morning Post

Serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast at home is the most economical meal of the year.

This year, the average cost for a home cooked dinner of turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls, salad and pie to serve ten comes to about $40.00. That's only $4.00 per person. Surprised?

At Thanksgiving, grocery stores battle each other for your business pricing the most popular foods way below cost. Even turkeys are priced too cheap to believe. This marketing technique is called a loss leader by the industry.

By deliberately pricing certain items ridiculously low, they'll tempt into their store. Once you're in, you're going to buy lots of high profit items to make up the difference.

Beer and wine, artisan breads, ice cream, salad fixings, paper plates, aluminum foil, butter, fancy hors d'oeuvres, center pieces - and you'll probably get a jump on your holiday baking by buying cookie or fruit cake ingredients. That $40.00 meal for ten is dwarfed by the hundreds of dollars of groceries in your cart. It's a very effective sales technique.

If you stick to your list and avoid the temptations of seasonal displays and free samples, you'll win the grocery game this Thanksgiving.

So gather your loved ones around the table for this truly American holiday. With a little planning and by taking advantage of those wonderful loss leaders, you'll spend less money than you think - and that's a good thing in this economy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Depression Cake

Monday Morning Post

The Thrifty Kitchen
Lots of taste for not much money

Oh, those frugal days of the Depression when folks had to squeeze every penny out of a dollar.

If you're on a tight budget these days (and who isn't) this taste of the past will help you stretch your pennies painlessly.

Depression Cake

Makes 1 (8 inch square) cake

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water

Position oven rack so cake will bake in center. Preheat to 325 degrees. Grease pan or coat an 8 inch square pan with baking spray.

In a medium sauce pan, combine water, sugar, oil and raisins. Cover. Bring to a boil over high. Remove cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Dissolve baking soda in water and stir into pot containing the raisin mixture. (Mixture will foam).

In a small bowl, combine spices, baking powder, salt and flour. Stir flour mixture into raisin mixture combining well.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan. Cut into squares for serving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Sippers to Drink in the Season

Monday Morning Blog

Halloween will soon be here and there's no reason to leave the grown-ups out of the festivities.

A few adult beverages will warm a chilling evening.

Perfect for parties. Enchanting for two.

Black Cat Cocktails
An adult ice cream float.

Orange sherbet
A jigger of vodka
Root beer
Whipped cream
Chocolate sprinkles

For each serving, put 2 scoops of sherbet into a tall glass. Add vodka. Fill glass with root beer. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Black Cat Coolers (non alcoholic): Prepare Black Cat Cocktails omitting vodka.

Beguiling and bewitching.

Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup apple cider (fresh or hard)
1/3 cup Guinness Extra Stout (other beers or ales not recommended)

Fill a tall, frosted glass with cider and stout. Stir. Served very cold.

Hot Orange Cider Toddy
Makes 1 serving

1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple cider (bottled, fresh or hard)
Cinnamon stick
A jigger of apple schnapps, Southern Comfort or bourbon.

Put juice and cider into a heat proof mug and microwave till steaming. After heating, add a jigger of spirits and a cinnamon stick.

Hot Orange Cider (non alcoholic): Prepare Hot Orange Cider Toddy omitting spirits.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October is Wine Month In Virginia And You Won't Go Hungry

Moday Morning Blog

The Vintner's Chef Cooks Up Perfect Food To Pair With Virginia Wines

It may not the best economic time to start a business but that didn't stop Pamela Zacha from following her dream. She left the security of a full time job to start the Vinter's Chef - and even got her old boss to put up the seed money.

Vintner's Chef is a niche catering business that focuses on food prepared especially for Virginia wineries. There are two parts to the Vintner's Chef, Plat du Jour and Extraordinary Events, both of which will pop your cork.

Plat du Jour (Plate of the Day) is run by Zacha who prepares upscale, individual servings of prepackaged, fresh gourmet food for local wineries to sell to their customers. Each item is paired with a specific wine for the diner's tasting pleasure.

Zacha got the idea for her niche business after hearing people complain about the lack of food at Virginia wineries.

"Virginia Farm wineries, because of their tax status, are not allowed to have full service restaurants and serve meals. They're allowed to sell prepackaged food and most sell cheese and crackers but not much more." said Zacha. "That's where I come in. I prepare elegant food to flatter their wines."

Extraordinary Events is the full service catering arm of the Vintner's Chef. It's run by Altovese McClung. The two whisk their passion for food and wine together like a gossamer hollandaise.

And, like Plat du Jour, catering at wineries is the specialty.

She must be on to something because it took Zacha only two and half months to get the entire operation up and running.

"The right food with the right wine makes everything pop! " says Pamela Zacha.


Want more info?

The Vintner's Chef
Exquisite Food to Flatter Wine

Plat du Jour - Prepackaged Winery Fare
Extraordinary Events Catering




Savory Pesto Cheesecakes
Complements of The Vintner's Chef

Nice with your favorite rose.
Best served at room temperature but these can be refrigerated for several days.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 16 - single serve, individual cheesecakes baked in a standard size cup cake pan

(You can use 3/4 cup of prepared pesto from a jar and skip this step)
1 package fresh basil, about 1/2 cup
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Finely chop first three ingredients in food processor. With motor still running, pour olive oil slowly down feed tube. Process until well incorporated. Add parmesan cheese. Blend well.

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup dry Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook's tip: Panko crumbs are coarse grated, Japanese style bread crumbs. They are available in grocer stores everywhere.

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, butter and the dried basil. Spread onto baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until golden. Watch carefully, these crumbs cook quickly.

Line a cupcake tin with papers. Spoon baked crumb mixture into bottom of cupcake papers. Press down into paper firmly. Set aside and make the filling.

16 ounces cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pine nuts

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, salt and cayenne in a large bowl until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of mixture to medium bowl. Mix pesto mixture into remaining half.

Pour pesto mixture into crust lined cup cake papers. Smooth tops. Carefully spoon plain mixture over. Gently smooth tops. Sprinkle each cup pine nuts dividing evenly.

Bake until center no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Farmacology - Antibiotics and Industrial Agriculture

Monday Morning Blog

An article appeared in the June 2009, Johns Hopkins University Magazine entitled "Farmacology" that chronicled Johns Hopkins researchers who say that drug resistant pathogens (like e coli and salmonella) are being bred on farms that routinely feed low doses of antibiotics to animals so they can be taken to market sooner. This began right after World War II and has been standard practice on mega - industrial farms for the past fifty years.

It is estimated, the article says, that 50 to 80 % of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to meat producing animals as a supplement to promote faster growth (and quicker profits) - not to treat disease.

The antibiotic resistant bacteria find their way from the factory farms into the general food and water supply as well as the population at large. Since these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, they become life threatening.

Using antibiotics as a growth promoter so animals can be brought to market sooner seems a reckless endangerment of all life.

The more we know about industrial agriculture, the more we realize how important it is to know where our food comes from and how it was produced. The buy fresh, buy local concept of supporting local agriculture is a simple and straight forward. It's a great place to start.

To know the farmer. To know the land. To know how your food was produced. These are all such important steps in keeping our food and water supply safe for us all - now like never before.


Want to read the whole article for yourself?
Johns Hopkins Magazine
June 2009
Electronic edition - www.jhu.edu/-jhumag/

Sunday, September 27, 2009

October Apple Fest In Virginia

Monday Morning Blog

It's apple time in Virginia. Crisp, juicy, sweet - tart apples.

Apples are loaded with everything healthy so tuck them into lunch boxes, mix them into salads and serve them in desserts. You just can't get too many apples this time of year!

Celebrate October with an apple fest. Invite the neighbors and gather the clan. Dish up some delightfully, apple-licious treats to tempt your guests and tickle their palates.

October Virginia Apple Fest Menu

Mulled Cider Toddies (for the adults)
Steaming Spiced Cider (for the children)
Baked Virginia Ham with Hunt Country Apple Chutney
Roasted Butternut Squash
Garlic Green Beans
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Creamery Butter
Local Harvest Virginia Red Wine
Rustic Apple Tart with Lemon Ginger Ice Cream
French Roast Coffee
Orange Spice Tea

Hunt Country Apple Chutney
Serve hot or cold with ham, pork and game.

Makes about 3 cups

4 cups apples (peeled, cored and cut into random 3/8 inch pieces)
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons grated fresh orange rind (no white pith)
2 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (5% acid strength)
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet (not cast iron). Cover. Bring to boil on high. Boil 1 minute. Remove cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until apples are translucent and mixture is syrupy - 10-15 minutes for soft apples, longer for firm apples.

Cook's tip: Firm apples like Granny Smith will hold their shape after cooking yielding chunky chutney. Soft apples like Macintosh or yellow delicious will yield a more mashed consistency.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Home ECO-nomics Round Table To Meet at Cheesecake Farms

Monday Morning Blog

Love to putter around home and garden?
Join our new discussion group called the Home ECO-nomics Round Table.

It's an opportunity to get together with people who share your interests. It's a break from your hectic day and an opportunity to pick up a new life skill or tweak an old one. Or - you can just come for the food.

The first round table will meet Saturday, October 3.
The topic is "How To Open a Bed and Breakfast".
You'll get the inside scoop and tour our new guest rooms.

The topic will repeat on Monday, October 5.

Questions and cameras are encouraged.

To receive information on future round table events, sign up for our free newsletter by emailing CheesecakeFarms@aol.com


The Home ECO-nomics Round Table at Cheesecake Farms
First Monday and first Saturday of each month beginning Saturday October 3, 2009.
Same topic at each session so pick the day that suits you best.

Both sessions meet in the Garden Room.
Fee for each session attended

Directions to Cheesecake Farms at http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/home/contactusdirectionstocheesecakefarms.html

The Monday Morning Coffee Hour
First Monday of each month beginning October 5, 2009
Coffee and a Topic

10:30 AM till Noon
Drop in - Reservations not required
$6.00 per person

The Saturday Afternoon Luncheon Club
First Saturday of each month beginning October 3, 2009
Farm Made Lunch and a Topic

Noon till 2 PM
Limited seating

Reservations required by noon the lst Friday
$16.50 per person
Call 540-439-2188 or email CheesecakeFarms@aol.com

Need more info?
Want to make a reservation?
Bringing a group?

Email: CheesecakeFarm@aol.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate Wine Pops Its Cork at Virginia's Cooper Vineyards

Monday Morning Blog

There's a little sleeper wine called "Noche" (pronounced no-chay) from Cooper Vineyards in Louisa, VA. It's extraordinary.

Noche is chocolate wine. Yes, chocolate wine. Not wine to drink with chocolate but chocolate tasting wine.

Noche means night in Italian and this gorgeously purple wine is as dark as a starless night. It's rich and fragrant but without that uber sweet taste and syrup-y texture that many dessert wines unfortunately possess.

Noche is smooth as silk, mildly reminiscent of a well aged port although you wouldn't call it a port. Noche could, I suppose, stand in nicely for port when there's none in the house and you're in the midst of a recipe that calls for port.

Noche's taste is haunting, richly decadent and oh, so sip-able. It's chic and sophisticated without being pretentious.

Robert Culley, marketing director of Cooper Vineyards, gave me the scoop. "Owner Jeff Cooper got the idea for our chocolate wine after a trip to California where he first tasted chocolate port," he said.

Back in Virginia, Cooper let his winemaker experiment with various chocolate essences until a final selection resulted in a perfect pairing with their 100% Virginia Norton grapes.

"The chocolate essence," Culley continued, "is added after fermentation and just before bottling."
It's great when the bottle is first opened but like most reds, it's much better and much smoother after it's been allowed to breathe. I like Noche best after it's been opened, recorked and refrigerated for a couple of days.

Noche, by the way, took the top prize of a gold medal at the Virginia Governor's Cup wine competition this year.


Want more info?
Out of the area?
Need a virtual road trip?

Cooper Vineyards
13372 Shannon Hill Rd
Lousia, Virginia 23093


Winery open daily for tasting 11AM-5PM
Noche is available by mail order, at Wegmans
and by special order through your favorite wine shop

Noche Recipes

Noche Coffee
Pour a shot of Noche into black coffee. Serve with cream and sugar or whipped cream, if desired.

Noche Shooters
Pour Noche into chocolate shooter cups. Sip the Noche from the chocolate cup then eat the cup.

Noche Hot Chocolate
Pour a shot of Noche into your favorite hot chocolate. Sit by the fire and watch the world go by. Definitely not for the kiddies.

Noche Peaches
Peel and stone some fresh peaches. Toss with a little lemon juice and arrange in serving dishes. Drizzle with Noche to taste. (Great on fresh, pitted cherries, too.)

Noche Pepsi
Mix half and half over ice in a tall glass. Add a sprig of mint.

Starry, Starry Night
Put a scoop of vanilla or cherry vanilla ice cream into a serving dish. Drizzle with Noche to taste. Sprinkle crushed almond macaroons over the top.

Cherries Noche
Put some dried cherries into a glass jar with a well fitting lid. Don't fill jar more than half full with cherries to allow for expansion. Cover cherries with Noche filling jar. Refrigerate at least a week to let the cherries absorb the liquid. Longer is better. Serve over plain cake, ice cream, rice pudding or custard. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Noche Trifle
Alternately layer pound cake cubes, Cherries Noche and vanilla pudding in a trifle dish. Refrigerate several hours, covered, to blend flavors.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Celebrate Harvest Week In Hunt Country September 25 – October 4

Monday Morning Blog

It's harvest time in Hunt Country.

The last week of September is Harvest Week. Restaurants in Middleburg, Upperville and The Plains will mark the occasion with a culinary celebration of our finest fare. Local produce, meats, cheeses, wines and artisan edibles will grace the tables of the best dining spots throughout the region.

The week long celebration will bring local farmers, vintners and food artisans together with chefs and diners.

The idea is simple - enjoy a meal at one of the participating restaurants and discover how really delicious fresh, local foods are.

According to The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, agriculture in Virginia generates $2.69 billion in sales annually. The Virginia Cooperative Extension says that we can increase that number to $4.34 billion (and keep more of our hard earned dollars in Virginia) by spending just $10 of our weekly household food budget on local produce instead of foreign produce or produce that's been transported cross country.

Using local provisions has to come as a grass roots ground swell. By working together, restaurateurs and producers can promote the Piedmont region’s excellent foods and create more of a market for the "farm-to-table" concept. It's hoped that an understanding of the importance of knowing where food come from will develop.

The goal of Harvest Week is to see a time when buying and eating locally is the norm.


Want more info?
Visit: www.CelebrateTheHarvestWeek.com

Alyson Browett
Co-ordinator of Harvest Week


Harvest Week In Hunt Country
September 25 – October 4, 2009
Participating Restaurants - Middleburg, Upperville and The Plains

Call your favorite area restaurant to find out what their plans are for Harvest Week.
Each will be showcasing local bounty in their own special way.

Annie's 540-687-4754
Back Street Cafe 540-687-3122
Blackthorne Inn & Restaurant 540-592-3848
Coach Stop 540-687-5515
Forlano’s Market 540-253-5456
The French Hound 540-687-3018
Girasole 540-253-5501
The Goodstone Inn 877-219-4663
Hidden Horse Tavern 540-687-3828
Home Farm 540-687-8882
Hunter’s Head Tavern 540-592-9020
Market Salamander 540-687-8011
Mello Out 540-687-8635
The Rail Stop 540-253-5644
Red Fox Inn 540-687-6301

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Bed and Breakfast Is These Farmers Cash Crop

Monday Morning Blog

We just opened the first of nine proposed suites this past July 4th weekend. We've had other guests since then so we're off to a tremendous start. I think we've hit on something.

What we offer is peace and quiet to sooth jagged nerves plus lots of home baking to fill empty tummies. Nothing fancy - just baking like you got at grandma's house. No internet connection. No TV. No cable.

So far, our guests have come desperate for just those very basic things.

We love to entertain and have weekend guests so opening a bed and breakfast is a good fit for us. It would be a family friendly place where guests could unwind and reconnect.

Setting up the bed and breakfast wasn't hard but it took much longer than we anticipated.

Our guests came from overly crowded northern Virginia. They wanted a close to home get-away of peace and quiet. They needed a break from their hectic lives and were excited about staying in our renovated barn.

Breakfast at Cheesecake Farms Bed, Barn and Breakfast is simple, old fashioned farm fresh fare served picnic style in each suite. Guests can breakfast at their leisure without the pressure of having to get up and get going.

We call it a Virginia style, continental breakfast feast. The menu changes according to the availability with the emphasis always on home made, home grown and locally produced foods.

For the mid afternoon or late night munchies, guests find plenty of snacks waiting in their own refrigerator and private pantry.

Our first guests were thrilled and so were we. We're off to a great start!

For more information visit: http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/home/bedandbreakfast.html

Can't get to Cheesecake Farms?
Try our very special (and oh so easy) signature dessert at home.

Cheesecake Farms Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie
Best eaten the day it's made but leftovers won't go to waste.

Makes one (9 inch) pie
Skill level: very easy

1 pint heavy (whipping) cream
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese (softened - see Karla's tip below)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup natural, creamy peanut butter (see Karla's tip below)
1 (9 inch) graham cracker crust

Optional garnish - additional whipped cream, salted peanuts

Beat cream until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and salt together until smooth. Beat in peanut butter. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture.

Gently mound into pie shell. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 4 hours before serving - longer is OK. (After 4 hours, lightly cover pie with lid or plastic wrap if not serving right away.) Top with optional garnish, if desired, just before serving.

Karla's tips:
For best results, use cream cheese that gets firm in the refrigerator. We like Organic Valley brand organic cream cheese. It's readily available in grocery stores everywhere.

We used fresh ground, creamy organic peanut butter which had no added sugar but any natural, jar style, unsweetened peanut butter will work. Be sure to stir it well before using.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Easy Planting Trick For Healthier (and almost Big Free) Summer Squash

Monday Morning Blog

Usually my squash plants succumb to squash bugs early in the season but this year, there's hardly a bug in sight.

Here's a new planting method that we tried with great success.

Sink an empty flower pot into the center of each hill and plant the squash seeds around it. Water the traditional way but once the plants reach a few inches high, start watering by filling the empty pot with an inch or two of water. The idea is that the water goes deep into the soil instead of on the leaves to produce deep roots. Deep roots produce strong, healthy plants able to ward off bugs and disease plus stand up to the summer's heat and dryness.

I used recycled plastic pots that were 6 inches deep and buried them up to their rim in the soil. The garden looked funny at the beginning but now the empty pots are hidden by the lush green leaves.

So far so good. Not a bug in sight!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gotta Getta Goat

Monday Morning Blog

Local Networking Group Offers Support For Goat Enthusiasts

I received an email from Regina Yurkonis inviting me to lunch with her goat networking group.

So off I went to Warrenton to meet with Yurkonis (Doin' 2 Udders Farm - Rixeyville), Kate Wolf (Happy Goat Lucky Farm - Nokesville), Mary Kay Seely (Red Brook Farm - Warrenton) and the newest member of the group, Lisa Phelps (Pasture Prime Farm - Culpeper).

Lunch was at Red Brook Farm, the home of the Seely clan. We sat around the large, family style island in the center of the well appointed kitchen and chatted - everyone talking at the same time. The room was alive with energy.

"Here taste this," said someone as she positioned a crock of cheese in front of me. "No, taste this," said another. "Here, this is the one to try first," said someone else. We were knee deep in cheeses, crackers and chips as a prelude to the coming lunch. The cheeses, of course, were home made, farm fresh goat cheese, each from their proponent's own farm. Chive and garlic, bacon and shallot, sun dried tomato - they were all yum!

"So why do you keep goats?" I asked the group. '

Kate Wolf was first to shoot out her answer. "They are cheaper than therapy!" Her response drew hearty laughter from the crowd.

"I think the milk is healthier," said Regina Yurkonis. "The fat globules are smaller so it's easier to digest and it's creamier, too."

"None of us raise goats for the money," added Seely who also drew a big laugh. "Every body should get a goat."


Udder-ly Delicious Goat Milk Recipes

Peach Cobbler
Mary Kay Seely and her family make batches of their popular cobbler to give as Christmas gifts. Last year they made 35 cobblers - those lucky recipients!

Makes 1 (9 X 13) pan

2 sticks butter
1 large can peaches (sliced or halves) - drained
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups goat milk

Melt the butter in the pan. Pour in peaches. Do not mix.

In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients together and pour over top of peaches. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown - about 35 minutes. Scoop from pan into serving bowls and serve hot.

Rosemary and Lemon Chevre Stuffed Pork Loin
Wow your next dinner party with this easy (but extravagant looking) roast from Regina Yurkonis.

Chevre (goat cheese)
Chopped garlic
Dried rosemary
Lemon zest
1 pork tenderloin

Make stuffing by mixing everything (but pork) together to taste. Set aside.

Slit pork lengthwise through center and open up flat. Pound meat to an even thickness. Spread stuffing over pork and roll up jelly roll style. Tie meat closed. Place onto roasting pan, seam side down. Roast at 350 - 375 degrees till done.

Goat Cheese Spreads
Kate Wolf is famous for her fancy cheese spreads and suggests that you serve them with lots of fresh veggies. "I like to use what I have in my garden," she said. "I grow a lot of shallots which makes a very nice combination with bacon."

Start with chevre (goat cheese). Choose one of the following three blend ins and add to taste: cracked pepper or bacon and chopped shallot or fresh garden herbs and chopped garlic

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lavender Adds Beauty To The Garden And Good Taste To The Kitchen.

Monday Morning Blog

In Virginia, June is the month our lavender blooms spilling its fragrance everywhere especially in our rich Piedmont.

But lavender is much more than just beautiful to look at. It has medicinal properties and culinary applications.

Lavender lifts the spirits, helps eliminate stress, and aids in overcoming illness by boosting the immune system plus it adds a touch of elegance to our cooking.

We don't fully understand the complex, synergistic healing mechanisms of medicinal plants but one day we'll discover the way plant oils interact with the human body.

In the mean time, we can simply enjoy lavender in the garden, in the kitchen and to help us stay well.

Here's some easy ways to bring lavender into the kitchen:

Lavender Sugar
Mix some dried lavender flowers into sugar (For each cup of sugar, use about 1 teaspoon of flower buds or to taste) Put into an air tight container and put it on your pantry shelf to steep. After a couple of weeks, you'll have gorgeous lavender sugar.

Experiment with your lavender sugar in any recipe that calls for regular sugar that might me extra delicious with a touch of lavender (think custard, vanilla cream pie, white grape jelly, apple pie, Sally Lunn bread, lemonade to name only a few). Or save your lavender sugar for your tea or coffee.

Lavender Salt
Crush 1 tablespoon of dried lavender leaves and add it to your salt shaker to add a bit of lavender with every shake. Delicious on grilled meats, winter squash and chilled watermelon.

Lavender Pepper
Add a couple of pinches of dried lavender to your pepper mill. As you grind your pepper, you'll grind a bit of elegance. Great on salad.

Lavender Wine
Uncork a bottle of medium sweet or sweet white wine. Poke 2 (4 inch long) sprigs of washed and dried culinary lavender into the bottle. Replace the cork and refrigerate at least overnight to let the flavors develop. Serve chilled.

Lavender Honey
Add a sprig or two of washed and dried culinary lavender to your favorite jar of honey. Use about 2 (3 inch) sprigs for an 8 oz jar. Use in your tea and on your toast.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Drink Your Antioxidants In A Glass Of Wine

Monday Morning Blog

Raspberries, Strawberries and Peaches - They're Not Just For Breakfast Any More

Horton's award winning wines are a scrumptious libation any way you pop their cork but, my dears, I'm in love with their fruit wines. Yes, their fruit wines.

Oh, I know you wine purists out there are rolling your eyes at me. Real wines are made from grapes like chardonnay, cabernet and syrah not from strawberries, raspberries and blackberries but these wines are different.

These are not the syrupy sweet, home made concoctions that sat on grandma's side board in crystal carafes. No, indeed. These are grown up, sophisticated fruits of the Piedmont that are as sunny and bright as our fields of clover. They are real wines that celebrate our bounty with every gossamer sip.

Chateau Le Cabin is Horton's brand name for his fruit wines. There are nine fruit wines: blackberry, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, pear, peach, plum, raspberry and strawberry.

I like to think of these wines as antioxidants in a bottle although I'm not sure that the USDA would count a glass of Chateau Le Cabin as a daily serving of the required amounts of fruits and vegetables.

"Unlike most fruit wines, these are not candy sweet, but more like serious premium grape wines that are well balanced in acidity and sugar. Grape wine is added to make the wine more complex and food-worthy," said Horton. And so they are.

Horton Vineyards
6399 Spotswood Trail
Gordonsville, VA 22942

1-800-VAWINEE (800-829-4633)

Can't get to the winery?
Out of the area?
Ask for Horton wines at your favorite wine shop.
Or call Horton to arrange shipping right to your door.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dishing The Dirt - FA(Garden)Q

Monday Morning Blog

Novice gardeners seem to be really struggling with their gardens this year.

I don't know if it's the troubling times we're living in or if this new generation of gardeners is just more perfection minded but here's the questions they ask us most often:


I buy healthy looking plants but before I get a chance to get them into the ground, they dry out, shrivel up and die. Help!

Commercially, seeds are jump started under controlled conditions in a sterile potting medium with high levels of fertilizer. The water they're given is often filtered and purified.

The plants grow well but once all the mega nutrients are used up, there's nothing left to nourish them. "Dead" soil becomes rock hard and doesn't hold water. Without food and water, the plant dies. Like a puppy mill, mass produced plants are cranked out fast.

Here's what to do:
Get your beds ready before you buy plants so you can put them in within a couple of days of purchase.

If you've already bought plants but there'll be a delay in planting, take the plants out of their containers and tuck them into a large, holding container or bed filled with a mix of compost and garden soil. Keep them watered.

Chlorinated water is hard on plants but it takes a week for plants to get used to any new water even if it's not chlorinated. Your plants may droop for a few days but should perk up after they've gotten used to your water.

Garden soil, by the way, will naturally filter out chlorine but for potted plants, fill a container with your chlorinated tap water and let it sit at room temperature about an hour before use so the chlorine can dissipate.

Everyone says I should use compost and not synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Grow. What's wrong with Miracle Grow?

Just like humans, plants are what they eat. Think of synthetic fertilizers as fast food and organic matter as slow food.

Fast food will jump start your annuals with lots of show-y color. By the end of the season, the plants will be exhausted and all played out but since they're annuals, you don't expect another season.

Slow food produces strong, healthier plants that will grow more slowly but will produce better in the long run and do better under adverse conditions like drought. Healthier plants are less subject to disease, too.

Cost is another factor. Synthetic fertilizers are very expensive. Organic matter is free or very low cost.

My perennials never seem to make it through the winter even though I cover them. Do I have a black thumb instead of a green one?

You're choosing the wrong plants. Pick perennials with a temperature tolerance to least minus ten degrees.

Our temperature here in the Piedmont usually dips below zero for a few days each winter and that's just enough to kill a plant that's only tolerant to zero.

I desperately want a rose garden but bugs, black spot and hard clay soil are driving me crazy!

Get yourself a Knock Out Rose.

Knock out roses are a new, gorgeous, shrub type rose that comes in red and several shades of pink. No bugs. No black spot and they love our clay soil.

I didn't believe it when a gardening pal cued me in but after years of struggling with roses, I thought I'd give them one more chance before throwing in the trowel. I now have a lush garden full of roses and you will, too!

I know horse manure should be aged before use but how do you know when it's ready?

Horse manure is ready to use when the dry apples (round manure droppings are called "apples") have disintegrated into a crumbly mass.

I'd like to recycle the plastic pots that nursery plants come in and use them to start seeds but I've heard that you shouldn't re-use pots because you might spread disease. Is that true?

This is a myth that must have been started by flower pot manufacturers so they could sell more pots.

There's no reason why pots can't be reused. It's economical and will keep tons of trash out of the land fill.

While it's true that putting a healthy plant into a pot that held a diseased plant will probably spread the disease, if the pot is washed there should be no problem.

Here's how:
Remove the plant. Use the garden hose to rinse out the container (no soap required) then leave it in the sunshine until it dries (at least five minutes - longer is OK). Sunshine is natural disinfectant and fungicide.

I'm looking for a good looking, inexpensive way to label my plants in the garden. Those plastic plant markers are priced right but they look ugly. Nice looking markers are very expensive. Got any ideas?

Get a package of wood shims. A shim is a thin piece of wood that's narrow at one end and slightly wider at the other. Write the name of the plant on the thicker end using a water proof marker and stick the thinner end into the ground.

Shims are inexpensive so at the end of the season you can compost them but frugal folk can wash them off and save them for the following year. Shims are readily available at hardware stores or any where lumber is sold.

People say tilling the ground is environmentally wrong and destroys the soil structure but my ground is so rock hard that I can't get a shovel into it. Is it wrong to use a tiller?

Many people swear by tillers for tough, hard ground - especially our clay.

A small, easy to handle tiller (like Mantis by Troy Built) runs about $350 and is a much better choice than the large, old fashioned tillers that require lots of muscle.

But even with rock hard soil, you can do a lot of wonderful gardening by simply building a bed on top of the hard ground instead of trying to dig it up. Here's how:

Lay some flattened card board boxes, newspaper or even straw flakes over the area you want to plant. (No need to actually build a raised bed planter but you can if you want to.) Put a couple of inches of organic matter (like aged leaves, grass clippings and/or compost) on top. Cover that with a couple of inches of top soil. Repeat organic matter layer then top soil layer. Voila! You're ready to plant.

In the fall, top the bed with a couple of inches of compost. Add more in the spring. Keep adding leaves, grass clippings and compost spring and fall.

Over time, your bed will settle and earth worms will start to work their magic. Eventually, the hard clay underneath it all will be soft and gorgeous but by then your garden will be so beautiful you'll have forgotten all about the clay.

Should you use a tiller?
Take a look at you garden. Decide what will work best for you and how much you're able to spend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Mother's Day Brunch That's Easy Enough to Cook Without Mom's Help

Monday Morning Blog

Make this Mother's Day extra special by letting mom snooze while you whip up this yummy brunch in her honor. You and dad can probably manage without a bit of her help.

Be sure to clean up everything before she wakes.
No mom should have to face a messy kitchen on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Brunch Menu
Freshly squeezed orange juice
Fajita eggs
Pan roasted red skinned potatoes with garden herbs
Raspberry scones
French roast coffee

Fajita Eggs
Mexican crepes stuffed with scrambled eggs and cheese them topped with salsa. Ole!

Serves 4-6

8 eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk or cream
2 tablespoons butter (margarine not recommended)
8 flour tortillas
1/2 cup of your favorite shredded cheese (approximately)
2 cups of your favorite salsa
Optional garnish - 3/4 cup sour cream (approximately)

Warm salsa but don't boil.

Whisk eggs with milk or cream. Lightly coat a large frying with cooking spray. Put butter into coated pan and heat till foamy. Add beaten eggs. Cook until set - stirring once or twice.

To assemble fajitas: Put some cooked eggs on a tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and put onto serving plate seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top each serving with warm salsa. Dollop with sour cream, if desired.

Pan Roasted Red Skinned Potatoes with Garden Herbs
Mom will love these heavenly, stove top potatoes. Choose your favorite herb. Be traditional with parsley or chives or go gourmet with thyme or rosemary.

Serves 4-6

8 to 10 (2 inches in diameter) red skinned potatoes
2 to 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
A generous sprinkle of your favorite fresh garden herb (washed and well dried)

Scrub potatoes well under tepid running water. Leave skin on but using the tip if a knife, remove any eyes that have started to sprout. Cut potatoes in half. Cut halves into 3/8 inch thick slices.

Put potatoes into a large skillet. Add enough tap water to cover. Bring to a boil on high. Cook till just tender - about 5 minutes. Drain.

Return potatoes to pan. Add butter or oil. Heat on low (stirring only once or twice) until potatoes start to brown very lightly. Stir in fresh herbs to taste and remove from heat. Serve.

Raspberry Scones
Plump little scones bursting with red, ripe raspberries. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving. You can use blueberries, if you prefer.

Serves 4-6
Uses a 10 inch pie pan

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter (softened - margarine not recommended)
1 pint regular sour cream (low fat and fat free not recommended)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup red raspberries (washed and well drained)
Optional garnish - powdered sugar

Position oven rack so scones will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan or coat with baking spray.

Using an electric mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt sugar and butter. Mixture will be crumbly. Add sour cram and mix till smooth. Gently fold in berries being careful not to crush them (a rubber or plastic spatula works well). Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or till nicely browned. Cool slightly and cut into wedges. Dust with powdered sugar just be for serving, if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Treat Mom To Mother's Day Brunch At Airlie!

Monday Morning Blog

What's Airlie?

Airlie is a drop dead gorgeous, environmental research and conference center in Fauquier County just outside of Warrenton.

The fabulous restaurant at Airlie is not open to the public but Mother's Day Brunch to benefit the Fauquier Family Shelter will give you a rare taste of this long standing, hunt country tradition.

Brunch is by advance ticket purchase, only, and part of the ticket price is tax deductible as a donation to the shelter.

The experimental and sustainable kitchens at Airlie are always whipping up the yummy and the unexpected. The staff is young, energetic and cooks their little hearts out.

The huge buffet feast has something for every taste and includes plenty of delicious dishes that just happen to be vegetarian.

You'll feast on local, free range eggs and omelets made to order, crepes stuffed with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, roasted salmon with spring asparagus cream, gilled vegetables, whole wheat pasta with roasted red pepper pesto, slow roasted - cabernet of local beef, salads of organic greens with home made dressings - and dessert, oh the desserts - blackberry cobbler, apple tarts and a host of other tempting, home made treats.

Most of the food served is local with much of the produce coming from their own massive garden and greenhouse. Mom will love it (and you will, too)!

Curious about Airlie?
Out of the area?

Check out their web site: www.Airlie.org

Mother's Day Buffet Brunch to Benefit the Fauquier Family Shelter
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Airlie Conference Center
11AM-2PM (4 seatings)

Adults $45
Youth (7-12) $20
Children (6 and under) Free

For reservations call (540) 341-0900
Sorry, no tickets will be available at the door.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Plan Your Kitchen Garden With Preserving Your Harvest In Mind

Monday Morning Blog

Now's the time to think about canning tomatoes, drying herbs, making pesto and freezing green beans.

With a little planning, you can stretch summer's bounty through the winter. Not only will you have that great taste of summer but preserving food stretches your food dollar and gives you a sense of security in these uncertain times.

Plant what you want to preserve and in the amounts you'll need. Plan how you'll do your preserving based on the foods you family likes to eat. Preserving food doesn't have to be an ordeal of never ending work.

Determinate tomatoes, for example, are considered better for canning because you'll get a crop all at once. But if you don't have time to can a whole harvest, do a few jars here and there using indeterminate varieties of tomatoes which spread their yield over the entire season.

Green beans are another example. As you're deciding what variety to buy, check their yield. Large yields, all at once may be easier to can or freeze but beans that produce all season will give you smaller yields to deal with at one time.

Herbs give you lots of flavor for not much work. They're easy to grow and you can preserve them by drying, freezing or making flavored oils.

Some garden produce doesn't need anything other than a cool place to keep them garden fresh. Winter squash, apples, potatoes and onions can be stored in a classic root cellar but any very cool room will work just as well. Even a barrel of sand in the garage or a deep lined hole in the ground can be a mini root cellar.

Some vegetables, like carrots, can be left right in the ground and covered with mulch. Whenever you need them, it's just a matter of a trip to the garden.

When planning your garden, plan how you'll preserve your harvest, too.

Rosemary Oil
Absolutely gorgeous for salads, scrambling eggs and brushing on meats before grilling. Try it on a toasted baguette then top the whole thing with sliced tomatoes from the garden. Yum! Rosemary oil is pure heaven and you'll find dozens - if not hundreds of uses for it!

Makes 1 pint
3 or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (each about 3 inches long - washed and well dried)
2 cups olive oil (approximately)

Put rosemary into a pint canning jar or similar glass container. Pour in oil to cover. Cap jar. Refrigerate several days before using to let the flavors develop. Lasts indefinitely in the refrigerator. Do not store at room temperature.

Karla's tips:
Olive oil becomes solid in the refrigerator. Make sure the jar you use has an opening wide enough so you can scoop out the oil.

Be sure to use a glass container. Plastic is porous if you use it instead of glass (which is not porous) everything in your refrigerator will taste of rosemary.

If you have an extra "storage" refrigerator in the basement or garage (as many people do), you can make up enough rosemary oil to last you through the winter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whip Up A Batch of Home Made Easter Candy and Watch Every Bunny's Eyes Light Up

Monday Morning Blog

Remember the home made chocolate eggs that grandma tucked into your Easter basket?

Old fashioned flavors like chewy coconut or peanut butter crème hiding inside her hand formed chocolates.

Turn back the clock and recreate those melting moments with a few quick recipes that will take you home to grandma's

Hand Made Coconut or Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Easter Eggs

Use semi sweet, milk or white chocolate for the shell then mix or match your filling flavors.

Makes 1 large egg (measuring 5 1/2 X 3 3/4 inches with a volume of 1 1/4 cups)

1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet, milk or white - divided)
1 recipe Chewy Coconut or Virginia Peanut Butter Crème (recipe follows)

Put 3/4 cup chips into a small, microwave safe bowl. Heat on high one minute. Remove from microwave. Chips will not look melted but will be soft. Do not over heat. Stir softened chips until smooth.

Immediately pour chocolate all at once into the mold. Spread evenly (The back of a coffee spoon works well.)

If the chocolate slides down the sides of the mold, briefly refrigerate the chocolate in the mold (30 seconds to 1 minute) and re-spread.

Wipe away any chocolate that extends beyond the top of the rim. Refrigerate 3 to 4 minutes till hard then put into the freezer for 1 minute.

When chocolate is set, spoon in filling to 3/8 inch from top.

Melt remaining chocolate as before and pour all at once onto filled shell, spreading quickly to cover. Make sure chocolate seals the edges. Return to refrigerator (or freezer) to set completely - 3 to 5 minutes. Invert chilled egg onto a flat surface and pop out of mold.


Chewy Coconut

Make this filling in advance so the coconut has time to absorb the corn syrup. If you love Mounds candy, you'll love this!

Stir together:

2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut (the packaged kind)
1/2 cup light corn syrup

Virginia Peanut Butter Crème
Set a timer so you beat this long enough.

8 oz. powdered sugar (sifted)2 sticks butter (softened - margarine not recommended)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white vegetable shortening
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter (regular commercial type - not fresh ground or natural style)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine using a heavy duty mixer on low then beat on high 4 minutes. Do not under beat.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome Back Spring At the Upperville Daffodil Show

Monday Morning Blog

The Upperville Daffodil Show is a stepping stone to bigger daffodil shows like the ones in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. There's a national show, too, but at the Upperville show it's just friendly competition.

It's not necessary to compete, of course, you can just go to see the flowers - and what beautiful flowers you'll see!

Hundreds of bright yellow blossoms in every variety imaginable line table after table. Their sweet scent is deliciously heavy and perfumes the air. It always smells like Easter and daffodils make everyone feel happy.

All amateur growers are invited to exhibit.


The 46th Annual Upperville Daffodil Show
Presented by the Upperville Garden Club in conjunction with The American Daffodil Society.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Buchanan Hall
8549 John Mosby Hwy
Upperville, VA 20184

No charge to enter daffodils or view the exhibits but donations are appreciated.

For information contact:
Alex Woodson


Diane Ingoe

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is Your Juice Worth The Squeeze?

Monday Morning Blog

Have you looked at your orange juice bottle lately?

I mean REALLY looked at it?

Some bottled juices are 100% freshly squeezed juice.
Some are made from concentrate.
Then there's bottled juice that's made from part concentrate and part freshly squeezed.

The healthiest and best value is 100% orange juice NOT from concentrate. There should be no added sugar, corn syrup, water, coloring or cellulose.

What's wrong with 100% orange juice made from concentrate?

Nothing if you're buying frozen concentrate.
Adding your own water is a good way to save money.

What's wrong with 100% orange juice made from concentrate is that you're paying premium prices for less than premium juice.

Every time orange juice is processed, it looses nutrition - vitamin C and enzymes in particular. Vitamin C is added back after processing but not enzymes.

When bottled orange juice is made from concentrate, it's been processed twice - once to make it into concentrate and again to pasteurize it after reconstituting and bottling.

Each time food is processed, it looses nutrition.

So when you buy bottled orange juice, get the biggest bang for your hard earned buck. Make sure the juice you choose is worth the squeeze.

Orange-mato Soup
Tomato and orange? You betcha!

3 tablespoons butter (margarine not recommended)
1 small onion (chopped - about 1/3 cup)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14 to 16 oz) can diced or petite diced tomatoes in juice (without sugar or corn syrup)
2 cups orange juice (without sugar or corn syrup)

Melt butter in a medium pot. Add onions and black pepper. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft (but not brown) - about 10 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomatoes and their juice. Bring to boil. Simmer on low, partially covered, about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in tomato juice and heat to steaming.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Food For Bad Times

Everyday we're hit with more and more bad news about the economy. It's enough to make you want to hide out until it all blows over.

But now's not the time to isolate yourself. You need family and friends around to keep your spirits up.

So gather the clan and still keep a hold on your wallet. Here's how:

1. Buy less prepared food.
Make party foods yourself and save a bundle. Cube you own cheese. Cut your own veggies. Serve home made dips. Prepare soup, salads and entrees from scratch.

2. Plan you menu around sale items.
Be flexible. Buy what's on sale - crackers, meat, cheese, veggies - even the wine or beer. No one will know you didn't pay full price.

3. Make your own dessert.
Purchased desserts are expensive. Think simple. Fresh fruit with orange liquor or a sweet white wine drizzled over the top. Home made cookies. Cobbler. Bread pudding. Baked apples.

4. Serve a meatless entrée.
Afraid your guests will feel deprived? Serve Italian. Nobody ever misses the meat in entrees like eggplant parmesan, baked ziti or ricotta stuffed shells.

Try this gourmet entree. Add a loaf of crusty bread, a bottle of wine and a gooey dessert. Couldn't be cheaper or easier!

Artichoke, Black Olive and Parmesan Whole Wheat Fettuccine
Very nice and very elegant which just goes to show that good taste doesn't have to cost much.

Serves 4

1 (12 -16 oz.) box whole wheat fettuccine
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic (finely minced - or to taste, optional)
1 (12 to 14 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts (partially drained and coarsely chopped)
1 cup pitted black olives (halved lengthwise)
Pinch coarse grind or brandied pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley leaves (shredded - no stems)
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese (not grated or from green jar)

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain well. Don't wash pot.

Put oil, garlic, artichokes, their liquid and pepper into the empty pasta cooking pot. Gently heat to steaming. Add drained fettuccine, basil (or parsley) and pine nuts (or walnuts or sunflower seeds). Stir to coat (a rubber spatula works well). Pour onto serving platter. Pile cheese over top.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

F.E.A.S.T. - Serving Up Support

Monday Morning Blog

In a world where dieting and trying to lose weight is the norm, it may seem odd that some people don't want to eat.

Can't eat is probably a better term because people suffering from the eating disorders of anorexia or bulimia don't have a choice. Anorexia and bulimia are compulsive brain disorders - not chosen behaviors.

F.E.A.S.T. (Families empowered and supporting treatment of eating disorders) is a Warrenton, Virginia based, not for profit, international organization that helps in the recovery from eating disorders.

An out growth of the cutting edge book on the subject, Eating With Your Anorexic, F.E.A.S.T provides up to the minute information about eating disorders, promotes evidence - based treatment and research.

"Parents were (once) believed to cause eating disorders but they don't. Parents are the greatest ally in treatment. With a new generation of care we'll see a new generation of recovery."
……..Laura Collins, author of Eating With Your Anorexic.

F.E.A.S.T believes that eating disorders are biologically based mental illnesses and not the result of deep pathology in the patient or trauma within the family.


Eating With Your Anorexic
By Laura Collins (McGraw - Hill)

Laura Collins is regularly invited to speak at conferences and has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The New York Times, The BBC and NPR radio. Look for an upcoming article about F.E.A.S.T in the Washington Post.

F.E.A.S.T Informational Community Event
Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 3PM
Lord Fairfax Community College
College St.- Room 203
Warrenton, VA 20187
(540) 227-8518

Open to the public - Free

Monday, February 2, 2009

Baby Bee Mine - Honey and Ginger Chocolate Truffles

Monday Morning Blog

It just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without chocolate.

These ultra dark, ultra rich hand made truffles are kissed with the elegance of ginger.

Wonderful with champagne, merlot or French roast coffee.

For the sophisticated, adult taste. Don't waste these on the kiddies.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

1 (1 oz) square unsweetened chocolate
2 oz regular cream cheese (softened- low fat or fat free not recommended)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
1 teaspoon dried ginger
Toasted wheat germ or sifted, dark cocoa powder for coating (about 1/4 cup - natural cocoa not recommended)

Put chocolate into a heat proof cup and microwave until almost melted - about 1 minute. Stir to finish melting.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and chocolate together until smooth. Beat in honey. On low speed, add powdered sugar and ginger mixing until smooth.

Refrigerate to firm - about half an hour. Longer is OK.

Put wheat germ or cocoa (for coating) into a small bowl. Divide firm mixture evenly into 18 pieces.

Using your hands, lightly roll each piece into a ball and roll in coating. Shake off excess.
Keep finished truffles refrigerated.

Karla's tips:
Toasted wheat germ resembles (and tastes like) ground nuts.
Dark cocoa for this recipe has a much richer taste than natural cocoa. Natural cocoa as a coating can taste chalk-y.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl

Monday Morning Blog

Chips, dips and beans.

Super Bowl Sunday is the day we pay homage to the snack food industry - and you thought it was just about football.

Great Bowls of Garlic

Roasting garlic takes the sharp edge off so you can use as much as you like in this thick, yummy dip. Serve with pita bread or tortilla chips.

1 (15 to 16 oz) can kidney beans (drained but not rinsed)
1/2 fresh green pepper (chopped - about 1/4 cup)
1 small fresh tomato (chopped - about 1/4 cup or use 1/4 cup canned, diced tomatoes, drained)
1 small onion (chopped - about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves roasted garlic (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Put everything into the food processor and blend till smooth. Chill.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grass Fed Beef

Monday Morning Blog

Blue Ridge Beef Has a Steak In Your Future

Just look around Virginia and you'll see lazy, grass grazing herds of healthy, contented cattle.

Grass fed beef is the term used to distinguish pasture raised cattle from the conventional, grain fed, feedlot kind. Its loyal customer base says grass fed beef has more flavor, is leaner and healthier than conventional beef.

Blue Ridge Beef of Upperville has been producing grass fed beef for twenty years under the watchful eyes of owners Michael Barreda and Leslie Grayson. The husband and wife team manage their herd with lots of TLC using ecologically sustainable practices.

"Customers tell us they've never tasted such flavorful beef," Barreda said.

Blue Ridge Beef follows USDA guidelines for "natural" beef which means it's minimally processed with no additives. Their beef is raised without hormones or antibiotics. No herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used on their fields and organic alternatives are used to control internal parasites. Blue Ridge Beef is never irradiated. "Healthy cattle and clean environments don't need it," Barreda said.

To explain the difference in taste between conventional grain feed beef and grass fed beef, Barreda compared each to wine.

"The beef from grain fed, feedlot cattle is like a creamy Chardonnay. The massive amounts of fat (called marbling) within the beef yield a steak that's fork tender. It's got a soft and creamy flavor. At the other end of the spectrum is grass fed beef. It's naturally leaner because the fat is around the meat rather than in it. The flavor of grass fed beef is richer and more complex - like a merlot."

"Grass fed beef is higher in beta carotene (an antioxidant) and up to four times higher in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef is also generally lower in fat and LDL (bad) cholesterol."

"At Blue Ridge, we combine the right kind of cattle and abundant, rich pastures to produce flavorful grass fed beef without sacrificing tenderness. Clearly, if you care about your health and the quality of the food you eat, locally raised Blue Ridge Beef is one of the best deals around."

To find out how you can get grass fed beef contact:

Blue Ridge Beef
Michael Barreda and Leslie Grayson
1716 Blue Ridge Farm Road
Upperville, VA 20184


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Naked Cabbage

Monday Morning Blog

Cabbage 101

Cabbage always gets a bad rap.
It's misunderstood - that's all.

When properly selected and properly prepared, it's a marvelous vegetable that's as sweet as sugar and ultra nutritious.

You can use cabbage in hundreds of ways - raw, lightly cooked, deep fried - you name it and it's so CHEAP!

First (and most important), always get fresh cabbage. Old cabbage tastes horrible.

The leaves should look moist and appealing. A few outer dark green leaves is a clue that the cabbage is fresh.

Next, turn the cabbage over and check the core bottom. The leaves should be tight against the core and not cut away. See the picture.

As cabbage ages, stores cut away the wilted outer green leaves and bottom leaves to extend the shelf life. Not a good buy for consumers.

Naked Cabbage
An easy way to cook cabbage.

A wonderful side with hearty fare like beef.
Yummy served over whole grains and toasted pecans as a main.


Melt a bit of butter in a skillet and stir fry finely shredded cabbage on low till limp and tender. Partially cover the pan to speed things up. Don't over cook or brown.

Cabbage should be very tender but still slightly green.