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Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category

EATING MY WAY TO CHRISTMAS

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Our business is mostly about Christmas. So when Labor Day is gone, Columbus Day is on the horizon and the leaves are turning and then falling, our excitement builds as we become busier and busier with calls and orders for our Nativities , Nutcrackers, Santa and Toy Soldiers.santa-sleigh-reindeer

Since I like to cook, the change of seasons means a change in the kind of dishes I prepare. Gone are the salads and lobster rolls, steamers and burgers on the grill. Instead we eat roasted chicken with root vegetables, chicken fricassee, steak and fries and salmon prepared several different ways. Roasted duck is a favorite and various hearty pastas, including a sinfully good carbonara with eggs and cream. I had better stop. This list is making me hungry.

Other pleasures to anticipate are the special seasonal items made by our local bakery cafe. Our town is blessed with a world class bakery cafe owned by a professionally trained perfectionist and employing some of the best pastry and bread bakers in the country. I would compare our gem to the best shops in the largest cities and our bakery would still come out ahead.

During the summer, our bakery  cafe produces fruit pies with seasonal berries, plums and fresh figs. When fall comes they  switch to pumpkin and apple pies ,as well as southern pecan pie. Thanksgiving brings cranberry walnut pie, pumpkin-caramel pecan pie and , our favorite, chocolate-pecan pie. Then there is something called a Plymouth described as “layers of chocolate mousse, pecan meringue and pumpkin mousse”. Delicious!desserts

Baked Christmas goodies include Christmas pastry cream logs and Christmas cakes with preserved fruit, but nothing like the pies. Having worked with Christmas decorations all year long, we travel at Christmas. Someplace sunny and warm. A different kind of Christmas.

Recipe for LEMON CHICKEN FRICASSEE:

INGREDIENTS

4 Pound Chicken cut into 10 pieces, Flour, Olive oil. Three cups thin sliced yellow onion, Chopped garlic clove, Juice of one lemon, Lemon cut into 10 slices, 2 cups chicken stock, 8 sprigs fresh thyme, salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F, Dredge the chicken pieces in flour  and salt and pepper and brown completely in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Remove and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook at medium low for 20 minutes until soft. Add thyme and chicken pieces. Pour in stock and squeeze lemon over chicken. Place  lemon pieces on top of chicken pieces, cover pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes until done. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on a platter with a bitter green vegetable, such as broccolini, and french bread

The History of Halloween Traditions

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Jack-o'-lanterns
Halloween is definitely an underrated holiday. There’s no denying that it’s a lot of fun, but lets take a second to think about what it means to most people. Eating candy? A party? And that’s about it. For a lot of people it’s a very forgettable holiday. You think about it and then it’s over before you know it. When you stop and take a second to think about it, though, Halloween is really quite interesting. It originates from a Celtic holiday called “Samhain”, which is derived from an ancient Irish word meaning “summer’s end.” And when I think Halloween, I think three major traditions: pumpkins, costumes, and trick-or-treating. Here’s a brief history on why these traditions define Halloween today!

Pumpkins:

Pumpkin carving — a classic part of Halloween. But when you think about it, it’s actually kind of funny. Why do we do we display pumpkins? What’s the point of a jack-o-lantern? Long long ago, people of the Celtic religion would take turnips and use them to ward off evil spirits. They would carve out these turnips and put candles in them, and place them in front of their house. Over time, for one reason or another, we’ve adopted pumpkins as the fruit of choice. And yes, pumpkins are a fruit, that’s another fact for you! As with a lot of Irish history and old wise tales, you’ll never read exactly the same story about the origination about jack-o-lanterns. One old wise tale claims that an old drunken man named Jack had interactions with the devil, and when he died, he wasn’t allowed in heaven or hell. He roamed earth for a night with a turnip and a candle, and so it was Jack’s lantern.

Costumes:

In ancient history, those who celebrated Samhain were celebrating the end of a harvest, and they believed there were two parts to a year; a lighter half and a darker half. In the darker half, people would wear costumes to ward off evil spirits. But they weren’t the costumes you might think. They really just dressed up as people that would be in a church (example: a saint). In the late 1800′s, Halloween started to become more of a party for people to get together. And in even more recent times, Halloween started becoming a “dress-up” holiday. The baby boomer generation was really the start of all the costumes you see today.

Trick-or-Treating:

trick or treating
When you were a kid, you probably remember trick-or-treating as being a wonderful event. Who doesn’t love free candy? But where does it originate, you ask? In the mid 1800′s there was an Irish practice called “souling” and people would walk around villages asking for soul cakes. In exchange for a soul cake, the person souling would have to say a prayer for a dead relative of the person giving them a soul cake. The practice eventually got adapted into the modern day Halloween, and as what seems to happen with a lot of events, the religious aspect got forgotten about. And when America picked it up, it didn’t start as the ultimate candy holiday like it is today. People used to give things like apples, or sometimes money.

Which part of Halloween is your favorite? Let us know!

5 Reasons We Love Fall

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

The crisp breeze signifies that summer is gone and fall is in the air. We love fall; it has a beauty all to its own. From warm apple cider to autumn leaves, there are so many reasons to enjoy fall. Here are five things about the season that we love:

It's fall, really

The Changing Leaves

If you are blessed to live in a place where the leaves change color, you know why fall foliage is one of the reasons we love this season. Walking down a tree-lined street to see a canopy of orange, yellow and red leaves is thrilling. In Upstate New York, the leaves typically peak in late October. A good amount of colorful foliage lasts through Thanksgiving and even into the wintery months.

Fall Clothes

Fall clothing is just wonderful! As the temperature begins to drop, we take our fall essentials out of retirement. We’re talking about boots, sweaters and scarves. Nothing feels as delightful on a crisp fall day as a wool sweater and pair of comfortable boots. Well, maybe a cup of warm apple cider would make the day even better!

Pumpkin Everything

Whether it’s a baked good, drink or savory dish, when September rolls around and our taste buds salivate at the thought of all things pumpkin. Ice cream, coffee, pale ales, and more all come out in pumpkin flavors during the fall. Pumpkins can also make the best fall décor. Decorate your Thanksgiving table with a beautiful pumpkin centerpiece. Another seasonal favorite is pumpkin carving!

Thanksgiving

While Christmas is our favorite holiday, we really enjoy Thanksgiving too. This autumn holiday is special for a couple reasons. Thanksgiving has both religious and cultural traditions. Not only do you gather around a table and spend time with loved ones, but you also have the opportunity to reflect on all the things that you are thankful for. And we have a lot to be thankful for!

Christmas Planning

We simply adore Christmas and fall is the perfect time to think about to the holiday season. For instance, setting a holiday budget now will make it easier to achieve all your Christmas goals later. More important, planning early will allow you to enjoy the holiday season, rather than get caught up in the hustle and bustle. If you start Christmas planning now, you will reap benefits come December!

Tell us what you think. We want to know your favorite things about fall!