ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.


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I’m on a roll… 2 weeks. 2 cakes.

2014-09-14 16.12.44Much to the dismay of my waistline, I seem to be on a roll with baking cakes. This week? Chocolate and vanilla marbled bundt cake. I based my cake on this recipe at Allrecipes.com. I thought the marbling would be difficult, but it just involved making the batter, splitting in half, then mixing cocoa powder into half. I spooned big dollops of alternating flavors of batter into the pan, then ran the back of my wooden spoon through the batter to create the marble texture. The batter texture was very thick, I think to allow the chocolate and vanilla to stay separate. To top the cake, I dusted the whole cake with powdered sugar, then cut a slit in a piece of parchment and used that template to coat the narrow strips with cocoa powder.

Pro tip: Before filling your wire mesh strainer with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, run it through the flame of your gas burner for 5-10 seconds to make sure it’s very dry.

This cake baking binge is starting to eat away at our store of butter. With the price of butter expecting to spike, I may have to stock up if this cake binge is going to continue.

What’s next week? I was thinking apfel kuchen. Other ideas?


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Bookmark this! King Arthur Flour Baking Conversion Chart

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.56.14 AMBookmark this!

King Arthur Flour has this super-useful chart on their website to convert volume to weight. Importantly, their flours have different weights for a 1 cup volume, and you can find that specific info at this page.

I can’t say enough about baking by weight. It’s always difficult for me to bake by volume anymore – I hate sifting dry ingredients and, when it matters, I don’t want to skip the step and have overly dry baked goods. I still turn to the tablespoons and teaspoons for things like vanilla, salt, or baking powder/soda but everything else – give me weight to give me cake!


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Carmel cake

20140908-182119-66079981.jpg This week on The Splendid Table, Jane and Michael Stern visited Poe Boy Kitchen in Nashville, TN and raved about the carmel cake. I haven’t had caramel cake in probably 20 years. My Aunt Nollie Mae used to make one for Easter. I could remember the taste of the super sweet frosting.

Hearing about good caramel cake on the radio, I became determined that I was going to bake a caramel cake. I realize now why no one other than my Aunt Nollie May made caramel cake. It’s giant pain in the butt.

I worked off of two separate recipes. This one for the cake, and this one for the frosting.

The frosting has this unique characteristic of letting the sugar crystallize and the crystals add a touch of “crunch” to the frosting, in strong contrast to the moist but simple cake.

Eat your hearts out.


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This Week in Veg: A lot of Leeks

What’s the term for a group of vegetables? We have a herd of cows, a flock of sheep, a murder of crows… but what do you call a bunch of vegetables? A bunch? 

Either way, we got a lot of leeks this week in the CSA. I tried to chop and freeze them a few years ago, but I just didn’t get back to using them and they got freezer burn. I think I will put them into a quiche. Sound good. Maybe with bacon? 

That's a lot of leeks. A bunch of leeks? A bramble of leeks?

That’s a lot of leeks. A bunch of leeks? A bramble of leeks?


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Gross Corn, or 12 x 12 = 144

The going price at the market for corn in Vermont and New Hampshire is anywhere from 6 ears for $4 up to $1 per year – or $8-12 per dozen. As a kid, the teenagers in pickup trucks along the side of the road charged, at most, $2/dozen, and we could often talk them down to $1.50. In Madison, I could buy a bakers dozen ears (13×13) from a local sweet corn farm, and they’d even haul the bags to my car for $3.50/dozen, and often not charge me for the full Baker’s gross. The most offensive price in the Midwest for an ear of sweet corn is at the Sun Prairie Corn Festival where FIBs* and Cheeseheads get overcharged for sweet corn- $2/ear including salt and butter. Last year, I got lucky and coaxed a kid to $5/dozen and complained to everybody around about the price of sweet corn.  So, paying $8 for a dozen ears of corn offends my Midwestern sensibilities. I was not going to pay $8 per dozen to freeze corn this year. 

We headed to upstate New York over Labor Day, where fertile soil and normal market pricing mechanisms conspire to produce cheap, high-quality sweet corn. I was determined to buy as much corn as I could haul back and put it into the freezer for the year. I accomplished my goal. $4 per dozen. A gross of corn (a dozen dozen), and we produced 43 zipper bags holding about 2 cups of corn each. Mission accomplished. 

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