Herb of the Week – Sage

Sage is a more versatile herb than most people know.  Before I grew a sage plant that became a bush in just 2 short seasons (they are a perennial herb), I only knew of its use in poultry dishes and stuffings.  One of our favorites here, is Chicken Saltimbocca.

As my sage plant turned into a shrub, I had to find more ways to use it and preserve it.   It is very cold hardy too but if you grow a sage bush, you will have much more sage than you know what to do with at first.  For several years I harvested it before the hard freeze and stripped it from the branches and layered it on a tray to freeze.  It stored very well in zipping freezer bags.  It maintains its color but darkens just slightly.  It loses none of its piney and lemony essence. 

I added it to Chicken and dumplings to increase the flavor of the dish.   Here is a good link to an article on many uses of Sage.


There are also medicinal and spiritual uses for sage http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail52.php

But please check on any instances when using sage  medicinally could be dangerous and always let your physician know if you want to add sage tinctures, teas, topicals or oils to your diet and medicine routines.   This WebMD link contains information on uses and interactions of medicinal sage:



Fall Harvest Season- one of my favorite times of year

Now that the leaves are turning and the days are getting crisper – I just love the smell of fall in the air and all the fall harvest produce.  I have been busy in the kitchen working with some of my favorites:  Apples and the end of the green beans from the garden.

Fall canning and preserving are tasks I enjoy doing each year.  This year I spent a day in the kitchen with my 17 year old son (yes he still likes to spend time with me cooking and learning about food).  This year I put him to work as my sous chef peeling the 1/2 bushel of apples for the applesauce.  He, even at this age – looks forward to those fresh quarts of applesauce each fall and winter when it can be hard to get fresh fruit.  His time in the kitchen with me is some of the most talkative time we have and he is considering a career in culinary and hotel and restaurant management as he looks to his future.  I treasure spending time with him in the kitchen and he has a true appreciation for healthy homemade food.

Applesauce - the beginning
Applesauce – the beginning
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Applesauce
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Applesauce

We also love the first apple pie of the fall season and with my need to be gluten free, I reached out to chefs I know for a workable gluten free crust.   I shared it in my earlier blog on special diets but because it worked well there and in the pie we made I am sharing it again – so those who need it will have it for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season.   It  may need you to piece it back together on the edges but it worked and tasted better than conventional crust.  My whole family loved it.


First Gluten-Free Apple Pie of the Season
First Gluten-Free Apple Pie of the Season

Since we also have the adventure of vegan eating in my house, I also made an apple crisp topped with oats brown sugar and coconut oil for the crunch topping – no butter allowed for my very vegan daughter.

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Vegan Apple Crisp

Then I moved on to the purple pole bean harvest.

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Purple Runner Beans for Dill Beans

Here is the recipe for dilly beans.   http://www.simplycanning.com/dilly-beans.html

I also blanched and froze several pounds of beans.

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Dilly Beans after blanching for freezing

I just wish they kept that beautiful purple color after blanching but alas – they are very green.  We will have fresh tasting beans in the winter and the best part is I grew them organically from heirloom non-gmo seeds.

The Challenges of Special Diets

Well tonight’s dinner is baking.  Though it is probably not on my weight loss plan, it is one of my childhood favorites. Pasties. For those of you who may not know what they are it is pronounced as in “past” not “paste”  so it is past ies not pastees ( a whole different item we won’t want to cover here).  

A pasty is a vegetable and meat filled pastry turnover, they are a Cornish food ( an area in Great Britain).  The difficulty in making these for my family are our two newer food choices – gluten free and vegan.  It has been a real challenge to find a gluten free pastry crust that can be rolled and not crumble when you touch it.  Well at my recent USPCA Personal Chef Conference in Long Beach, CA, I attended a gluten free cooking class.  Chef Donna Barrow shared so many helpful tips and I asked her for her thoughts on my search.  She searched and found a recipe that sounded like it would work for me.  I am sharing that link here:


I ended up making 3 separate kinds of pasty.  Gluten free crust with meat and vegetables.  Pastry crust with no butter only shortening stuffed with meat and vegetables and pastry crust with only shortening stuffed with vegetables and tofu.  

I am happy with how the gluten free crust came out – it held together, could be folded but did need a bit more care – rolling it on parchment paper and using the parchment to turn over the dough to seal it to the other half.  It did not crack and sealed well.  As you can see in the photo below the crust had a browner coloration due to the chick pea and sorghum flour.  

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My son and husband did not comment that the other crust without butter was any different than usual and I did find it easier to roll and fold as well.   

Gluten Free Pasty

1 recipe of gluten free crust above (this is enough to make 2 good sized pasties)  Triple if you want to make 6 -8 pasties.

5 medium new potatoes peeled and chopped to 1/4 – 1/2 inch dice

1 large onion peeled and diced in 1/2 inch dice

2 large carrots peeled and diced in 1/2 inch dice

Butter 4 TBS divided in 9 portions

1 pound ground beef – 80/20 fat content

Salt and pepper to taste

This quantity of filling will fill 8 – 9 pasties depending on size. 

Peel and dice the vegetables and combine with salt and pepper.

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper.

Divide dough into 8 or 9 pieces. 

Roll each piece into a rectangle about 5 x7 in size. 

Place 7/8 c of vegetable filling and 1/8 pound of ground beef in rough pieces on one half. Place one of the 9 pieces of butter on top.  Moisten the edge on half of the dough and fold one opposite corner to the other to form a triangle shape.

Seal by crimping with a fork or if you have rope sealed a pie crust you can use the same technique here.

Place on a tray lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. 

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees f and bake an additional 45 minutes. 

They can be served with ketchup or brown gravy. 




From – I don’t like vegetables to I want to be a Vegan

This has been an interesting week around here.  My teenage daughter this week decided she wants to be vegan.  Now mind you this child passed on most vegetables with our meals.  I have been working to get her away from eating all processed and junk foods an onto healthier non-red meat options for quite a while.  This is a more extreme option but so far this week we have been enjoying time together making many new vegan dishes for her to try.  Tofu and legumes have become our friend. 

We have made dishes from our  Everything Indian Cookbook, Del Sroufe’s Forks over Knives book  and our Everything Vegan Cookbook. 

I have been enjoying teaching her to cook as she hadn’t shown much interest in cooking yet as with me around my kids are spoiled and expect great food on the table. 

We have spent time on knife skills and made it through her first cut finger while slicing vegetables. 

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Gluten Free Vegan Banana Bread

This banana bread is rice flour based without eggs or butter.  It has a wonderful taste and has a bread-like moist texture.  I adapted a Moosewood Cookbook recipe to use vegan margarine, chia seed and maple syrup.  The next time I make it, I will reduce the tapioca flour to see if it has more crumb.

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Breakfast Scramble and a Kale Banana Smoothie

This is a healthy breakfast option with a high vegetable content and a Indian flavor profile. 

We will continue our journey together and share it with you. 

Herb of the Week – Cilantro and Coriander

Often you will find Asian, Indian and Mexican recipes that call for coriander and cilantro. 

The recipes may call for cilantro and coriander interchangeably, both names can be used for the leaves of the plant.

cilantro plant
Common Cilantro

Coriander seed is also common in these recipes.

Coriander Seed
cilantro in bloom
Coriander in Bloom

Coriander and coriander seed are both easy to grow.  Just plant seeds or several plants you buy at your local nursery in a sunny spot in the garden and keep watered and you will have a crop for all your Asian, Mexican and Indian dishes.  To grow coriander seed you just let the plants flower and produce seeds. I let them dry partially on the plant like the seed head above and then harvest by cutting the plants and popping the seeds off over a bowl.  They may need to dry a bit more so I place the seeds in the sun outside to dry for several hours. 

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Harvested Coriander Seeds

Some of my favorite recipes using these herbs are Indian or Mexican dishes, here are a few pictures of some of my favorites.

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Eggplant Vera Cruz – courtesy of Claire’s Corner Copia, CT
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Clockwise from top – Curried chicken, Palak Paneer and Chick Pea (Chana) Masala

Judy’s Jammin’ Kitchen

Busy day here today.  After our blueberry picking trip yesterday, I had 9 pounds of blueberries to turn into something amazing.   I hadn’t made blueberry jam in years so I dusted off the recipes.  I also had a gallon bag of fresh rhubarb and a quart of fresh raspberries.  So many choices. 

I began with Blueberry Rhubarb Jam with lemon thyme,  moved onto Blueberry Rhubarb Jam with ginger and allspice and Blueberry Raspberry Jam with cinnamon.   All in all 31 jelly jars of Jam. 

My daughter was my sous chef – she did the running and getting and making the labels you will see in the pictures later in the post.

This class in pictorial form will help you make jam – it is not hard or very time consuming if you prepare before you begin. 

Separate the Jars, lids and rings.  Place the lids into a small saucepan of water on medium heat while you sterilize the jars in hot soapy water.

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Set jars aside upside down on a clean towel to drain.

Place the canner rack into the canner pan and fill it partially with hot water.  Don’t fill it too full, when you add jars it displaces the water and you don’t want to overflow all over the stove.2014-07-13 16.13.11

Turn it on on medium low to keep the water warm while you prep and cook the jelly batches.  


3 Cups Blueberries after mashing

3 Cups chopped rhubarb

7 cups sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon thyme chopped

1 envelope ball liquid fruit pectin


Begin by chopping Rhubarb into bite size dices 1/2″ at the largest.  Mash blueberries.

You will need 3 cups of each.

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Combine with the sugar in a large heavy bottomed stainless steel pot and heat over medium high heat until it reaches a rolling boil.

Boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add pectin and the lemon thyme.  Stir.

Ladle into the clean jars.  Wipe top of jars, top with one of the hot lids and tighten ring. 

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Place in the water canner in the rack and fill until the jar lids are submerged.

Bring to a boil and then boil 5 minutes to sterilize and seal the jars.

Remove from the canner with a canning tong and place on the counter to let cool and jell.

You should hear the lids ping when they seal and the button on top will no longer be raised.

If they don’t seal, then you can either reprocess them for another 5 minutes in the canner or refrigerate to use.

If they seal they can be stored in a cool dry place for up to a year.

I made three varieties – just by changing the fruit combinations and the spices.  Use 1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp allspice to vary the taste. 

Lemon Thyme Spiced Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

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Cooking Fresh and Seasonal – try a Community Supported Farm


This year since my garden is not producing as it has in the past, I joined a community supported farm (CSA) in the area.  The first weeks produce included fresh corn, 4 kinds of summer squash, 2 kinds of cucumbers,  eggplant,  tomatoes, honey, blueberries and fresh green beans.  Each week will be a new adventure in using locally grown produce.  This farm is not organic, but I will be looking for one next year. 

Going to pick up my box reminded me of my childhood waiting for the farm truck to drive around.  We had a local farmer that would load up his harvest weekly and drive around our town to sell his vegetables.  I remember waiting for him to come each Wednesday night so I could pick out some exotic vegetable like fresh kholrabi, beets or fresh carrots.  With my mom raising 5 kids and working she often had to serve us canned vegetables so when he came around it was a real treat.

I made fresh blueberry muffins today for our family breakfast.  Then we headed to  a local pick your own farm to pick raspberries and more blueberries.  I will share a gluten-free blueberry rhubarb crisp recipe in my next post so look for it  later this week.

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I love having fresh produce that I know was grown locally and supporting the farmers in my area. To find a CSA farm in your area – search Community Supported Agriculture using google or ask the farmers markets vendors you frequent if their farms have a CSA program.  If more of us support our local farms we may be able to have a  say in how our food is produced and limit  pesticides and genetically modified organisms in our diets. 

Judy Buonocore – your food resource