Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Currant and blueberry picking

So this past weekend I continued with the one of my favorite summer activities - picking my own produce at a local farm. Besides knowing where your food is coming from and extending the support to a local farm, it is a great opportunity to pick hard to find produce. In the case of last Sunday, the hunt was on for the currants and the blueberries.

I went with Jean and the kids to Winney's farm in Beacon Hill, a small hamlet of Schuylerville (Saratoga County). They are the largest blueberry farm in the area and have lots of varieties, which means the picking season is way longer than at other local places. But most importantly, they have a TON of red and black currants. If it wouldn't be for the rain we have been getting, it would probably be too late to pick the currants (usually July 15th is a cut-off) - but not on sunday. Lot's of ripe and juicy currants. YUMMY!!! I was very happy to notice other folks picking the currants because most of them typically don't get picked. I suppose only so many Russians will drive out there (note: it is an easy 40 min drive at the most from southern Clifton Park).

Anyways, I got lots of currants, and then we got some blueberries. Also due to the rain, the berries were lagging behind in ripeness but there's was plenty. There should be a ton in a couple of weeks when i would be able to go back.

The cost is a very reasonable $2.25/lb. I got 8 lbs! Unfortunately they don't take plastic so come armed with cash or check.

Of course I will enjoy lots of fresh berries but the most of it will be frozen for use in baking later. Currants are fantastic in pies, bread puddings, with a leg of lamb (have to make a sauce), I had made clafoutis with the currants before and the custard was fantastic.

I love tart things, so for me, eating fresh currants by the handful is the way to go. They do taste delicious when paired with melons and other "mild" tasting fruit. Sour cream-berry combo is great too, but alas, not too weight-watcher friendly :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sour Cherry Picking

Yesterday I finally made it to the Samascott Farm in Kinderhook, NY ( http://www.samascott.com/), about 40 min drive from the house. It is famous (at least amongst eastern Europeans) for the sour cherries. They have a ton of other fruits and veggies available for picking, probably the best variety that i have seen in the area. It is a very easy ride - about 10 min off the highway through the picturesque and historic parts of the Columbia County. There's another farm stand on the way that is known for their honey and pies.

I went with my friend Alla, a serious sour cherry connoisseur (she came armed with 5 or 6 containers to fill!). The farm has 2 varieties of sour cherries, and at least 2 varieties of the sweet. The rain has not been kind for the sweet cherries, but the sour were fantastic - plump and juicy and free of blemishes or splits. The cherries are a mere $2/lb vs $3.5/small container at the market (if you are lucky to find it!). I filled up 2 gallons in about 20 minutes - way more than I need, so I will bring some to work to share :) I will freeze most of it for my family when they come up for a visit.

We also picked up some onion (the car still stinks!!!), kirby cukes, summer squash and the rainbow swiss chard. All of the mentioned produce went for $1.25/lb. Also in season were blueberrries, raspberries, garlic and Alla picked some remains of the strawberries.

Anyways, place is a gem and I will visit it again next year for sure. Maybe i will combine it with a trip to nearby Hudson so I could check out recently reviewed by CelinaBean Baba Luie for dinner or lunch.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finally! First summer outing to the Troy's Farmers Market

Usually I am there every Saturday but this season has been crazy. I suppose the rainy and dreary weather on most Saturdays has not been the most inviting to visit an outdoor market, plus we had some guests.

Anyhoo, 4th of July offered a nice weather (well, at least it was dry) for a change and no other commitments, and most importantly the sour cherry season was upon us - so Brian and I headed out to the new location.

It took a bit of looking - but it is so easy to spot folks with canvas bags munching on freshly baked baguettes!

I was pleasantly surprised to find a new vendor of sour cherries - a total of 3!

other tasty finds included phenomenal radishes, young garlic and a bargain on zucchinis (huge ones at $0.50 each!).

Hoping to be back next Saturday for sure!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Amaretto cheesecake and hibachi/sushi in Koto

Another b-day at work! unfortunately I forgot to take a photo :( I salvaged a slice for Brian, so i will post the pix. The cheesecake is topped with a sour cream-sugar-amaretto layer, then the toasted almonds. I usually use almond essence rather than vanilla for the batter. As usual, it was a hit. I have no idea how many billion points per slice the cake it. Not even worth it to figure out through the e-tools :)

We had friends visiting us over the weekend and since one of them was not into sushi, we decided to go Koto's (exit 4 off Northway) where both sushi and hibachi is offered (instead of our fave Sushi-Na in Clifton Park). The hibachi was outstanding but i was not impressed with the sushi. Plus, they brought out the sushi literally 5 minutes after we placed our order, and the hibachi chef hasn't even come out. As a result, i was nearly finished with my dinner by the time everybody else has gotten their hibachi. The more sushi I try, the more I am convinced that the best sushi in the area is our little Sushi Na in CP.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Birthday cakes for Nicky

At work (our group anyway), we have a great birthday cake tradition (started by me 7 years ago :)). over the years, the group grew, and a lot of us joined Weight Watchers. So long gone are the days when 1 cake would do.

On the occasion of Nicky's birthday, I made the following: carrot cake (not very WW-friendly), a strawberry-rhubarb pie (not too WW-friendly either) and a chocolate-tofu torte (2 points per slice!!!).

Given that we were having the cake party on Friday (i.e., I had to bake on Thursday after work and gym), these baked goods would not be classified as "epicurean masterpieces". However, I am excited to make a real first entry into the blog!

I am particularly pleased with the strawberry-rhubarb pie - it was a last minute decision as the recipe came from TU 5/28/09 edition. But rhubarb was plentiful in the garden, and I still had a lot of frozen strawberries from last summer (picked at Bowman's orchards in Clifton Park).

The carrot cake was made with organic carrots, and the eggs came from my co-worker's free-range chicken. So I guess 2 out of 3 cakes could be classified as "local".

I started cooking at about 9:30 pm and the last pie (strawberry-rhubarb) came out of the oven shortly after midnight. The oven (36") easily accommodated the 2 pans for the carrot cake, the torte, and the pie dish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So it begins...

I have decided (after being inspired by various amazing food blogs) to blog about new dishes, cakes and such that I am cooking in my new kitchen. Occasional dinner and farm outings will be noted as well :)