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CAPTURE CREATIVE CONNECTICUT FOOD AND FARM PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRIES NORA CUPCAKE COMPANY

ctfoodandfarm.com CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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in this issue

4 18 32 44 62 74 88

CULINARY FLOWERS AT TINY ACRE FARM

CALLAH RACINE

TIME TO MAKE THE BAGELS!

CRIS CADIZ

THRALL FAMILY MALT

COURTNEY SQUIRE

THE RISE OF THE CONNECTICUT FARM BREWERY

CHRISTINA MUSTO

THE LIL’ PLANT SHOP:

RADIATING POSITIVITY

ERICA BUEHLER

NOT YOUR MOTHER’S TEA PARTY

MARILYNN S TURNER

DINNER AND A SHOW AT TAINO PRIME

AMY S. WHITE

CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019

4 WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO


SUMMER 2019 | VOLUME 17

100 110 126 148 166 182 202

CANNING TOMATOES

SARAH LEFRANÇOIS

GRILLED PIZZA

JENNIFER C. LAVOIE

CT MADE NATURAL LAUNDRY PRODUCTS

WINTER CAPLANSON

PET FRIENDLY EATERIES

MARILYNN S TURNER

GETTIN’ SPICY WITH FRESH GINGER

LIZ FARRELL

JEM’S GARDENS: GOOD COMPANY

GENA GOLAS

ORANGE BLOSSOM CUPCAKES WITH DRIED VIOLAS

AMELIA LORD

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DINNER AND A SHOW AT TAINO PRIME BY AMY S. WHITE NICOLE BEDARD PHOTOS

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“Welcome to the cathedral of barbecue!”

announces Van Hurd excitedly as he opens the enormous front doors into Taino Prime, where he is the executive chef and pitmaster. Indeed, the effect borders on the spiritual, from the lofty ceilings to the wooden Taino Indian sculptures that decorate the walls. Then, there’s the restaurant’s literal focus (from the Latin word for “hearth”) – a stunning wood and stone Texas-style open barbecue pit – the first of its kind on the East Coast to operate indoors.

Wanting to expand upon his popular but relatively small Middletown location, Taino Prime owner Chris Szewczyk bought the former Jacoby’s restaurant on South Main Street in Meriden with aspirations of it becoming far more than just another New England restaurant serving up basic barbecue. As the building was being renovated, Szewczyk took Hurd on a tour of America’s best barbecue joints that spanned over 5,000 miles across 23 states. The two visited such smoked-meat meccas as Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis, Missouri and Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas, where they managed to convince some of the nation’s best pitmasters to share their secrets and offer sage advice on the art and skill of cooking with smoke

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and fire. Their ultimate goal? For Taino Prime to make it into the “top ten [barbecue restaurants] in the nation,” Hurd states matter-of-factly, then pauses and with his signature mischievous grin and infectious chuckle adds, “Yes. In Connecticut.”

“I’m from brisket

Not that Hurd, who was raised in Texas, is

country. I grew up barbecuing.

My dad always had a custom smoker. Playing with smoke has always been something I was intrigued

by.”

inexperienced in the matter. He explains, “I’m from brisket country. I grew up barbecuing. My dad always had a custom smoker. Playing with smoke has always been something I was intrigued by.” And where there’s smoke, of course there’s fire. In 2009, Hurd was thrown into Chef Gordon Ramsay’s fiery pit as a contestant on the sixth season of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” With a personality as big as his home state, he quickly became a fan favorite, and was invited back for 2017’s “Hell’s Kitchen: All-Stars.” But that first competition changed his life. That was when Hurd met Connecticut chef Kevin Cottle. The two hit it off, and on Cottle’s suggestion, Hurd moved “up North” to further his culinary career. He worked fine dining

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alongside Cottle at the Farmington Country Club, did catering with Jordan Caterers, then opened Sayulita, where he brought elevated Mexican cuisine to Glastonbury. But barbecue coursed through his veins, and he became the pitmaster at Taino (Middletown) in 2016, just as Szewczyk was eyeing his second, larger location. With Taino Prime, Szewczyk and Hurd plan to take the smokehouse concept to a higher level. Hurd sums up the three main objectives that comprise their mission: “Food. Hospitality. Theater.” At 10,000-square feet, the size of the restaurant plays a huge role in the spectacle. Separate areas, each with its own ambience and focal point, all provide the guest with a sensory overload that will bring them back, again and again, for dinner and a show. Long, community-style tables, like those in

European food halls, fill the front room, which Hurd refers to as “The Marketplace.” Here, during lunch and dinner hours, diners can view the daily menu and get in line, cafeterialike, to choose from among the day’s offerings. Brisket, corned beef and pork butt are smoked 12-16 hours overnight. Hurd arrives in the early hours of the morning to take out those meats and replace them with turkey, baby back ribs and sausage. Finally, as Hurd states, “I judge good barbecue by the sides,” one can choose from a dozen traditional favorites like collard greens, cucumber slaw, white bean cassoulet, and what Hurd calls “‘tater salad.” A sauce bar, pickle bar and drink station follow, along with a charcuterie counter (yes, they are smoking their own meats and cheeses in house), and, in case anyone has room for dessert, there’s a bakery. Everything is on

“Their ultimate goal? For Taino Prime to make it into the 12

‘top ten barbecue restauran CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


nts in the nation… Yes. In Connecticut.’” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“Food. Hosp

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display, and everything is available to eat in or take home. As the name “marketplace” implies, there are goods for sale as well – Taino sauces and rubs, t-shirts and hats, even items from local farms. Think Eataly meets barbecue.

pitality. Theater .”

In the center of all this, diners have the experience of watching the pitmaster at work. Hurd confesses, “I’m really into cooking over open fire. As much as I can use that pit, I’m gonna’ use it.” Almost dreamy-eyed, he goes on to imagine cauldrons filled with beans and chili, sausages, whole ducks and legs of lamb, all hanging over the pit which is fueled by logs of white oak, in the tradition of central Texas. Using real wood offers the best result, a richness and complexity of wood-fire flavor that really permeates the end product. Starting this fall, the middle section of the restaurant will feature the dinner-only “Prime Steakhouse.” Slightly less casual than “The Marketplace,” the menu here will bring fusion, technique and finesse. Hurd says one of the highlights will be the dry-aged steaks which guests can view from a window that peeks into the aging chamber. “We’re using Snake River Farms (Idaho) prime beef, the best you can get. We want to bring dry-aged steak to blue collar people.” This is also where Hurd can cull from his fine-dining and “Hell’s Kitchen” experiences and experiment with seasonal specials featuring produce from local farms and fresh pasta made in-house. The “Steakhouse” overlooks the open kitchen, where the Grillworks wood-fired grill is in plain sight. Guests can observe as the brigade prepares their food while Hurd works the pass -- checking, garnishing and sending each plate. Cameras in the kitchen provide fodder for the restaurant’s planned YouTube channel; future videos will include guest

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“It is from the [taino) word

barabicu, which translates into

'sacred fire pit, ’ that we get the word barbecue.”

chefs, cooking demonstrations, and dinner services streaming live. For VIP guests, there will be a chef ’s table, right in the center of all the action. The final area is the enormous bar. It’s a luxurious space with sleek modern red leather seats and a twoinch-thick white marble bar top. A state-of-the-art tap system has been installed, and there’s a long list of craft cocktails, some of which incorporate smoke. In his slow drawl, Hurd says he envisions the bar will become “A late-night place for the grown and sexy.” Amidst all the showiness, novelty and innovation, however, are subtle reminders of the true essence of Taino Prime. The Taino, while now extinct, were a peaceful people indigenous to the Caribbean. It is from their word barabicu, which translates into “sacred fire pit,” that we get the word barbecue. And although most traces of the former Jacoby’s are gone, its stately stone fireplace remains, a reminder of the past maybe, but perhaps also a sign that this place was simply destined to be.

Taino Prime is located at 1388 E.

Main Street in Meriden. Contact them at (203) 440-1600 or via social media @tainoprime.

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BY MARILYNN TURNER WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTOS

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- AT BAR PINA CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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W

ho doesn’t like a tea party? Imagine a Saturday afternoon with your besties, sipping mint verbena tea, poured from a rose painted vintage teapot into your decorative teacup with saucer. There’s more: a three-tiered tray brimming with all kinds of mini bites of yummy foods. And we’re not done yet! This isn’t your grandma’s tea party; it’s nostalgia with a contemporary flair at Bar Pina in the Goodwin Hotel in downtown Hartford. According to Heather Schold, Director of Events and Sales at Porron and Pina, the idea arose in response to inquiries for bridal and baby showers. “We looked at the space in Bar Pina and thought it would be a really cool vibe as well as something fun to add in. We figured we could put our own twist on

CTFOODANDFARM.COM

it, keep some traditional components, but also make it a bit less formal.”

ECLECTIC MIX OF

Heather collaborated with executive pastry chef Kristin Eddy. The duo did some research and came up with their own concept for Afternoon Tea. The idea is loosely based on a formal tea, with sandwiches and small bites, scones, and pastries and small sweets, and of course, tea - but that’s where the similarities end.

THE

Upon arrival, you and your party are seated in one of the cozy sofa-and-twochairs groupings, around a low table anchored by an oriental rug which defines the seating areas. The eclectic mix of unmatched vintage china is a cool contrast to the contemporary napkins and flatware arranged on the table. There’s soft jazzy music in the background, just enough to create a relaxed mood without impeding conversation.

A COOL CONTRAST

UNMATCHED VINTAGE

CHINA IS

TO THE CONTEMPORARY

NAPKINS AND FLATWARE.

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Once seated, you’ll receive a printed menu with the day’s offerings and will be told of the tea offerings, including English breakfast, Earl Gray, hot cinnamon, mint verbena and Paris floral all Harney and Sons Gourmet Teas. You also have the option of a glass of champagne or a mimosa. And then, the magic happens: a three-tiered tray laden with goodies is brought to your table, followed by your pot of tea which is poured, then left on a warming burner. On the bottom tray, there’s an assortment of savory sandwiches and deviled eggs. The sandwiches are lox on an everything bagel with cream cheese; a very tasty triple-layered cucumber sandwich with pickled red onion and herb cheese on rye bread; and a smoked turkey with cheddar and apple chutney on focaccia.

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The second tray has three types of mini scones: cinnamon sour cream, vanilla peach, and honey lavender. Topped with the house-made lemon curd, clotted cream, and jam, they are too delicious to describe. And finally, the top and the smallest tray is a treasure of delightful dessert bites, including chocolate hazelnut cream puffs, assorted donut holes, tiny buttermilk orange almond cake, the sweetest looking white chocolate earl grey tea cake, and the pastry chef’s choice cookie. Most items can be eaten in two to three bites the accompaniment to your cup of tea. Chef Eddy said, “We want food and pastries that people can make a connection to, but at an elevated level. Our connection to food creates an experience, and we often associate memories with food.” She commented that she and her talented pastry staff have full reign over the menu and enjoy creating items that offer a modern twist on the traditional. It also allows the pastry staff to showcase their talent and expertise by venturing into the territory of more savory fare. She added that the menu will change regularly, allowing for rotation and creativity.

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A great place to gather with friends or family for a fun, cozy afternoon out, tea at Pina is appealing to people of all ages. Pina will serve afternoon tea on the first Saturday of every month, by reservation only. The next tea is July 13, at 1:30 p.m. and the cost per person is $35, or $45 if you want to have champagne or a mimosa. Director of Events and Sales Schold said that private events and celebrations can also be booked.

Bar Pina is located in the Goodwin Hotel at 1 Haynes Street in Hartford.

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“AND THEN, TH A THREE-

WITH

IS BROUGH

POT

WHICH IS POUR ON A WAR

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MAGIC HAPPENS:

HE -TIERED TRAY LADEN

H GOODIES

HT TO YOUR TABLE, FOLLOWED BY YOUR

T OF TEA

RED, THEN LEFT

RMING BURNER.

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’ P l i l L a n e t h T

SHOP RADIATING POSITIVITY By Erica Buehler Katie Pinette photos

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We match

PLANTS to people’s lifestyles

EVER

Sometimes it features employees

Whether y wondrous better spac regular wo with tools, Plainville, t “talk plants

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RY TOWN HAS ITS (NOT-SO-) HIDDEN GEM.

s it’s your favorite coffee spot; other times it’s the mom-and-pop store around the corner. Typically, the following: a personalized experience, a therapeutic element, and some extraordinary s. In the heart of Plainville resides such a place: little in size but huge in dedication.

you’re a first-time plant parent or a monstera deliciosa master, you’re always welcome at the plant sanctuary that is The Lil’ > Plant Shop (with the “greater than” sign indicating its bigger, ce at 8 East Main Street). The 1,500 square feet is home to around 70 different kinds of plants, orkshops, a sunny patio seating area, and a one-of-a-kind, pot-it-yourself workbench, complete soil, and various accents to create your perfect houseplant. Sitting full-sun in the center of the large blue-and-green sign welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to come in and s.”

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Unlike your typical flower stand or home garden center, The Lil’ Plant Shop is unique in the individualized experience it offers those who visit. If you’re looking to spruce up your home (pun intended) or give a gift from the heart, you can find your perfect plant and pot, marry them yourself, and get a few free tips on how not to immediately kill it upon arriving home. You will be told, without hesitation and no matter the plant, all the specific care requirements from sunlight to water to estimated size. The owners and operators take pride in helping their customers understand and care for their new additions. Already profoundly charming and unique, The Lil’ Plant Shop being a family-run business certainly adds to its appeal. Jeff and Pat Eleveld have been working in the world of horticulture for more than 30 years, each contributing the knowledge and creativity that makes the shop so special. Jeff, also known as “Jeff the Plant Guy,” as seen on the title of his book, How to Kill a House Plant, found his passion for plants at an early age. “Nine years old and 364 days, it was just a plant, had no interest to me whatsoever. One day later, I was a plant fanatic, and I just couldn’t collect enough of them.” The dedication of wanting to bring joy and knowledge to any and every customer is apparent in the Elevelds. They’ve taken a passion for plants and

“...you can find your p

marry them yourself, a on how NOT

TO im upon arriving home.” 36

CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


perfect plant and pot,

and get a few free tips

mmediately KILL

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IT 37


“EVERYONE has a gr

just have to figure out wh green your thumb is.”

not only turned it into a popular and profitable business, but are doing exceptional work in teaching people the art of being good plant parents. “We match plants to people’s lifestyles,” says daughter and store manager Carli. “I have a lot of customers that come in… and they fall in love with the way that the plant looks. I’ll have someone fall in love with a Peace Lily who’s really more of a cactus person. 38

Until you get the hang of learning different plant styles, you kind of have to go with what matches your life. And we do that. There’s no such thing as a ‘black thumb.’ Everyone has a green thumb, you just have to figure out which shade of green your thumb is.” Jeff adds that “you can buy a plant at whatever grocery store, but they don’t really tell you how to CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


green thumb, you

hich shade of

take care of it. That’s where we’re different. We’re not just going to say ‘you have to water it once a week and it’s got to have this light,’ we’re going to sit down and spend fifteen minutes with you and explain.’” Plants and people have a genuine symbiotic relationship, and that’s where horticulture therapy comes in; Jeff’s been working as a

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horticulture therapist for more than ten years. “I work with 87 assisted living communities, and I go in every month and bring them a new program on horticulture.” Jeff explains that some of the residents he visits have many plants, while some only have a few, and some kill them literally as soon as they get them. “They get a plant and they take it home and they kill it, and the next month I come back with a 39


“It’s heartening to hear LOVINGLY, and with 40

CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


new plant and new program, and they take that home and they kill it,” he chuckles. “But that’s par for the course, being that age. As people get older, they tend to be forgotten, and I come in and I treat them like regular people. I give them interesting programs, I challenge their memory, I ask questions to get them to speak about their experiences. It has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” The Elevelds are optimistic that more and more people will develop an interest in horti-culture, as the “unplugging” and “descreening” movements continue to grow in populari-ty. “Plants are having a sort-of resurgence,” Jeff says. “People are seeing the value of plants as more than just an architectural piece in the home - cleaning the air, collecting dust, providing joy, being something to nurture and care for.” He mentions that being in a home without any plants in it feels particularly cold, to which Carli adds that “plants create a warmth that you don’t get from anything else.” Perhaps the most important lessons the Elevelds teach (or try to, at least) are patience and understanding. It isn’t necessarily about turning average people into plant experts, but teaching people the value of listening, learning, and practicing. You’ll leave the Lil’ Plant Shop with a few valuable pieces of information from those who know best, but it’s up to an individual to understand his or her plant, become familiar with its needs, and care for it accordingly. Carli adds that she

r the way the Elevelds talk about plants:

h a great deal of RESPECT.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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There’s a deep acknowledgment that plants are

JUST AS ALIVE

as humans, and require similar care and attention.” 42


and her family “give education in layman’s terms.” She likes to offer “simple things that are really easy to understand, because I know how complicated it can get. Especially when we’re talking about something as old as plants, and they have all these Latin names and all these light sources you have to think of … it’s a lot easier to give stories or examples for people to understand.” Throughout the interview, Jeff offers several sensible tips that might surprise potential plant homes. He talks about watching a leaf when first purchasing a plant to see when it begins to wilt, and watering accordingly. Repeating that process and counting the days in between gives you a watering interval. “Most people water plants because they want to. You need to water plants when they want you to. You don’t feed a baby all the time, you feed it when it needs to be fed.” He also mentions that one should never move a plant. “Once you find a home for it you leave it there, because they’re not nomadic. Think about it: a little sapling growing in the forest doesn’t pick himself up and walk over to the edge and say ‘This is where all the sunlight is!’ He acclimates. And if he’s lucky, a few of the branches from the older trees will break off and sunlight will filter through and it will be his turn to shine.” It’s heartening to hear the way the Elevelds talk about plants: lovingly, and with a great deal of respect. There’s a deep acknowledgment that plants are just as alive as humans, and require similar care and attention.

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But more importantly, they symbolize more than just a thing that grows. “If you spend $20 on a flower arrangement most people would say that’s an expense, but it’s an investment. Why? Because every time you look at that flower arrangement, it’s going to make you feel good. That’s the investment, in your own personal wellbeing. When you buy a plant, you’re investing in your own personal happiness. You can’t have a plant forever, but if you buy a plant because you love that plant, and you kill it in six or eight months, you got your money’s worth. Don’t look at it as ‘Oh I wasted $20 on that plant,’ look at it as ‘I invested six months in that plant, I’m going to invest another six months in a new one.” Positivity continues to radiate out of The Lil’ Plant Shop, as the workshops grow in size, the Elevelds acquire more plants, and business booms, especially for big holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day. The option for tea and coffee is now available, and the warmer days encourage lounging among the bright flowers in the shop’s sunny patio area, front and center on Main Street. As Jeff puts it, “it’s nice to see and be seen.” You can follow The Lil’ Plant Shop for photos and workshop updates on Instagram @ thelilplantshop, and on Facebook as well. Hopefully you’ll get to visit in the near future, but don’t forget Jeff’s lasting piece of advice: “Call us before you kill it.” More on The Lil’ Plant Shop: thelittleplantshopct.com.

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The Rise WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CONNECTICUT FARM BREWERY? Think being on a farm, drinking delicious handcrafted beer, made right there, created from Connecticut-grown ingredients. These are niche operations: Connecticut Farm Breweries can only brew 75,000 gallons of beer or less per year and 25-50% of the hops and barley used must be locally grown. The benefit of these breweries is that they help preserve our Connecticut farmland in addition to creating delicious, uniquely local beer.

Co Farm

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of the

by Christina Musto Jake Koteen & Winter Caplanson photos

onnecticut m Brewery CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“This is delicious hand-c m

Farmland is incredibly important for our communities as The Brewery at Maple View Farm points out in their recent blog post. Consuming local food products sparks trust in “your neighbor, land preservation, convenience, value, education, and health.” For example, Kate Bogli and her family - including her sons - have been farming their land for three generations. The farm was originally started in 1635, and the family has maintained the farming tradition in their town of Granby since 1950. This has not only enriched people’s health and nutrients thanks to the food they consume, but also benefits their environment and economy. Totaling 50 acres, The Brewery at Maple View Farm is home to horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. They offer meats, vegetables, eggs, horse riding lessons, summer camps for kids - and they brew their own beer. Bogli and her husband Jason were home brewers, home winemakers, and have been making kombucha for years. “We love the atmosphere

46

created from Conne CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


crafted beer made right on a farm,

ecticut-grown ingredients.� CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“Stay committed their sustaina beer producti Kate Bogli u all of her sp grain to feed pigs on her farm 48

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ying d to able ion, uses pent the m.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“It’s a farm-to-g 50

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of vineyards, so when we heard about the law changing it seemed like a perfect fit,” said Kate. Currently Kate and Jason are brewing 90-150 gallons of beer a week to keep up with the demand. Staying committed to their sustainable beer production, Kate uses all of her spent grain to feed the pigs on the farm. They also create a farm-to-glass experience consisting of farm hikes and the ability to view the farmland and livestock from the brewery door. “What is unique about our brewery is that it has opened up the farm more. For years we have offered summer camp for the kids, but haven’t had a way for the parents to enjoy the farm. Now the parents walk around, see the animals, and see all the action going on at the farm.” Kate offers farm tours on Sundays and you can most likely find her seven-year-old son gathering up all the kids to play and enjoy the farm. The Brewery at Maple View Farm is a great balance of the family learning about and enjoying the farmland, while the adults have plenty of personal space to enjoy the brewery and beautiful views. Kate has created a large spectrum of beers. From a Cranberry Blonde Ale to their Canter IPA, there’s a brew for everyone to enjoy. “We all love a good IPA,” Kate says; her favorite is their Dream Catcher IPA. This beer is full of bright, juicy citrus notes, created from mosaic and galaxy hops. She thinks the mix of Galaxy’s citrus and peachy notes with just a bit of Mosaic’s earthiness builds layers that makes this beer their best seller. You can tell she’s made wine before with the way she incorporates blending into her beers. Another beer that lights up the

menu is the Honey Basil Ale. This beer has been infused with farm-grown basil and honey to enrich the ale with sweet and savory notes. Kate’s other passion is growing new plants and herbs. She’s looking to add more infusions to her beer menu consisting of rosemary, basil, strawberry, and mint. Kate also has plans to create and sell her own kombucha in the tasting room soon nutritious and delicious. The Brewery at Maple View Farm focuses on providing a Connecticut community experience like no other. From a family friendly atmosphere to picking the basil right from the garden and infusing it into their beer, this family farm brewery will be creating farm to glass experiences for generations to come. Make sure to stop by, you won’t be disappointed. Another Farm Brewery recently opened this past April, and you don’t want to miss out on these beers! Hop Culture Farms was created in 2016 by a husband and wife – Sam and Heather Wilson, along with Sam’s parents, Sam and Nancy. And they have been busy brewing ever since. Their brewery and hop farm is located on 40 acres of farmland that hadn’t been farmed in over 75 years. You can tell the owners are focused on preserving and enriching this farmland, as they have planted over 4,000 hop plants on their property. This makes them the third-largest hop farm in the state. Nearly all of their beers are created from their own hops, and in the next 10 years they are hoping to become 100% self-sustainable in terms of hop production.

glass experience.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“Great beer definitely grows here.”

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The tasting room, outdoor picnic tables, and live music adjacent to their hop farms makes for a true hop-to-glass experience. Heather, the head brewer, is very focused on creating great beers while enriching the community. “We see our brewery and farm becoming an agro-tourism destination and the vibe the brewery has inspired is exactly what we envisioned. People are hanging out, enjoying the beer, and listening to live music,” she says. You can sip your beer next to the hop plants - and you might even catch the farm’s adorable goats walking by. Heather’s been busy: she plans to plant berries to infuse into her beers as well. And when she’s not brewing beer, she’s investing in the community. As the Financial Liaison of the Pink Boots Society, Heather is helping fellow female brewers with hop farming education. “Everyone in the brewery community has been very helpful and welcoming. We are very thankful,” she says.

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“Heather is helping fel

female brew 54

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llow

wers with hop farming.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Hop Culture brewery creates seven flagship beers. In the tasting room you can always find a beer for every palate - along with inspiring Beatles quotes. Groups of friends and families gather here on the weekends, and you can feel the positive energy this brewery and its beer creates. Sometimes the beers are even named by their patrons! Make sure to try their Bend and Snap Blonde Ale (bonus points for the Elle Woods reference), a delicious dry blonde ale - and the Juicy in the 860 IPA. The Juicy in the 860 is another great name but the beer tastes even better! Think lots of citrus, notes of mango, and grapefruit: a delightful IPA for any occasion. “Great beer definitely grows here,” the Wilsons say. It’s incredible to see families reworking farms and enriching their communities when it comes to Connecticut Farm Breweries. The Connecticut State Senate recently passed a bill on the evening of

“Juicy in the 860 IP notes of m 56

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PA…lots of citrus, mango, and grapefruit.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“The only way to save

is to 58

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e our farms May 30th, 2019 that significantly increases the amount of beer consumers can buy directly from local breweries. This is huge win for the brewery community (#NoLimits). The only way to save our farms is buy from them. It’s critical to support more farmers and businesses as our community grows. With several other farm breweries currently operating in the state and more planning on opening soon, there’s really no excuse for you not to drink and buy delicious beer from Connecticut Farm Breweries. Other Connecticut Farm Breweries to visit and support: Kent Falls Brewing Co. (Kent), Fox Farm Brewery (Salem), and Norbrook Farm Brewery (Colebrook).

o buy from them.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.” – WALLACE STEVENS

KATIE60PINETTE PHOTO

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Thrall Famil The Evolution of a Tobacco Dynasty

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ly Malt: by Courtney Squire Winter Caplanson photos

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oldest fam

“Largely considered the Thrall Family Malt in Windsor is the newest business that has been passed directly from

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mit inlcarnatiy ofarm i n Ameri c a, n of a family farm father to son since 1646.�

For centuries, the Thrall Family has grown tobacco and produced some of the world’s most sought-after shade tobacco. Shade tobacco is a lighter and milder product that is highly prized for making premium cigars, most often used as wrappers for high-end brands throughout the world.

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Growing and processing this highly intensive crop required over a thousand employees at its height, hand-cultivating and hand-harvesting over five hundred acres: an immense feat in and of itself. To harvest shade tobacco, workers returned to the same plant seven or eight times to pick each leaf one-by-one as it reached its perfect level of maturation. The fertile soil in the Connecticut River Valley was once the epicenter for this world-renowned product. But at the same time that tobacco trends were changing and people started smoking less, the burgeoning

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“As [they] watched their family’s century-old tobacco busin

slowly come to a halt, they heard from brewers that there w

no local malt house in the state.”

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CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2019


global market opened up other areas of the world to shade tobacco production, where labor costs are much lower. The resulting decline in demand required the newest generation of Thrall farmers to look in a new direction. As brothers Spencer and Joseph Thrall watched their family’s century-old tobacco business slowly come to a halt, they heard from brewers that there was no local malt house in the state. At the same time, the Connecticut Farm Brewery Bill was being passed into law, requiring a certain percentage of beer ingredients to be grown and produced in-state.

ness was

�

Seeing the craft beer trend continue to rise and having the foresight to see the opportunity that the new Connecticut Farm Brewery Bill would create, the Thralls decided to try their hand at growing and harvesting grains (such as barley, wheat, and rye) to support this widely burgeoning business. Although they grew plenty of grains as cover crops, this would be the first time in

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almost a hundred years that their family’s land would take down the twelve-foot poles, wires and shade coverings to allow for the mechanized harvest of a different product altogether. 2015 was the last crop of shade tobacco for the Thrall family; in 2017 they grew their first crop of malting grains. Soon after, they converted their tobacco fermenting building into a malting facility and Thrall Family Malt was born. The purpose of malting is to make the grain more usable by soaking, sprouting, drying and then curing the grain. Malting essentially converts the starch inside of each kernel into a fermentable sugar for the brewing process, and coaxes out complex flavors through its final curing phase that are essential to making tasty brews. Spencer Thrall knows that the first step in making a good malt is starting with the best quality grain available. Since grains are developed out in North Dakota or Western Canada, with completely different climates and soils, finding what works

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is

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oil is considered the bes

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“because Thrall Family Malt is grown and malted r

it has a flavor and aroma profile

well in the Connecticut River Valley has been a challenge. But Spencer says they’ve found ones that do really well: “I think our grain is as good as anywhere in the world, and our soil is considered the best farmland in Connecticut.” As the first malt house in

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Connecticut that also grows their own 100% non-GMO grains, Thrall Family Malt continues to experiment each year with growing different varieties. Craft beer devotees have Spencer Thrall to thank for these truly local and high-quality brews. Brewers rave about the impact that Thrall Family Malt has had

on their businesses, allowing them to acquire interesting and difficult-to-find malted grains and flakes such as triticale, emmer, and spelt. They also appreciate the fact that Spencer Thrall not only grows, harvests and malts the grains, but also personally delivers each and every order, ensuring his customers get

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right in Connecticut,

truly unique to our region.”

exactly what they need all year long. Kyle Acenowr of Nod Hill Brewery in Ridgefield notes that using Thrall’s products to make their Belgian-style beers, such as “Ace of Wands,” actually allows them “to stay true to the Belgian brewing tradition of using local ingredients,” and that “because Thrall Family Malt is grown and

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malted right in Connecticut, it has a flavor and aroma profile truly unique to our region.” Spencer Thrall sees a lot of similarities between the craft beer business and what was essentially the craft cigar business - which is really what Connecticut shade tobacco was all about. So, while

his farm business has evolved in a totally different direction from that of his ancestors, Spencer feels he is staying true to the traditional elements of his family’s history. But this time, the Thralls are wholeheartedly serving a niche market that is literally in their own backyard. To pay homage to their heritage, the

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grit

“Thrall Family Malt exemplifies the farmers looking to stay relevant in the face of 72

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Thrall family still grows some tobacco, but smaller amounts and only the broadleaf variety, which requires significantly less labor to produce (although still quite intensive). Thrall Family Malt exemplifies the grit and resilience of family farmers looking to stay relevant in the face of globalization and changing markets. But even more so, Thrall Family Malt is a celebration of our region’s unique terroir and cultural identity embraced by craft beer enthusiasts all across the country. Take a sip and taste the pure Connecticut terroir for yourself! Learn more about Thrall Family Malt at thrallfamilymalt.com and follow them on Instagram at instagram.com/thrallfamilymalt.

and resilience of family globalization and changing markets.� CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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TIME TO

ba by Cris Cadiz

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Winter Capla

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O MAKE

agels

anson photos

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E’ R E H T “ 76

O T O L A T O SN

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CHEF BRETT LAFFERT ADMITS

he’s NOT a morning person. But a happy, Zen time arrives at 5:30 a.m., while he makes bagels at Coriander, his cozy little restaurant in Eastford, Connecticut. “It’s one of my favorite things to do here,” says Laffert. “The process is satisfying. I’m not a morning person, not at all. But I get my coffee and I’m doing this with music in the background… it’s kind of nice. Especially when [the bagels] are performing the way they should.” There’s not a lot of places that make their own bagels by hand. At Coriander they bake a batch every morning. “Like any fresh bread, it’s always best if you can get it right then,” says Laffert. “I do have customers who come when we open to get them warm right out of the oven. That’s pretty common in the baking world. Some places will freeze them but it’s not the same.”

T

A H ST

MAKE

THEIR OWN

” BAGELS BY HAND. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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CORIANDER BAGELS TY

SELL OUT EV

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After bouncing around the restaurant world from Big Sur to Nantucket and a stint at the Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret, Laffert opened Coriander almost ten years ago. The small, red clapboard building anchors a sleepy 5-way intersection in rural northeast Connecticut. Coriander serves tasty breakfast and lunch seven days a week plus dinner Wednesday through Friday. The focus is local and seasonal home-style cooking. Laffert crafts a new dinner menu every week, and Coriander is BYOB minus the cork fee. Laffert learned how to make bagels while working at the Vanilla Bean in Pomfret. There he met David Emigh, a professor who lived in the area and was an amateur baker. “Dave was a really nice guy who looked like Gandalf, with a big beard. He’d come in and we’d let him play around in the kitchen and make some breads,” Laffert recalls. “We did bagels one time together. This was when I was thinking about doing my own thing.” Laffert asked David to work at Coriander and do some baking. “Initially I thought I could make sandwiches with our own breads…. I had grandiose expectations. I quickly

YPICALLY VERY DAY. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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realized I didn’t have time or staff to do that. David showed me the bagel process and we’ve been tweaking it ever since he left for somewhere in Arizona.”

NINGS,

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DOUGH.

AND GARLIC,

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AGO CHEESE.

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Laffert always liked bagels and they were getting good at it. “Bread is so wide; you can do so many different types of it. I wanted to pick one thing and do it well,” he says. “It’s a point of pride that we make our own bagels and baked goods here.” This includes cookies, muffins, scones, bars and sometimes cakes and pies. “Our cookies are well known, dinner plate size, and we make really good muffins.” The bagels typically sell out every day. A full sheet tray is usually gone by breakfast. They triple their batches on weekends. If they don’t sell out, Coriander’s bagels are seasoned, sliced and toasted into crisp, delicious chips, which also disappear rapidly. According to Wikipedia, bagels originated in Poland. The first known mention of bagels was in Kraków’s Jewish community ordinances in 1610. Today, bagels are an all-American staple for breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner. Once an ethnic specialty, today you can buy them in most grocery stores, fresh or even frozen. But the best bagels, like any bread product, are tastiest fresh out of the oven. Interesting bagel fact: the “roll-with-a-hole” design is hundreds of years old. The shape provides more cooking surface but is also a good way to carry and display bagels: just string them on a rope or wooden dowels. Laffert says making bagels is a fairly simple threestep process. Make the dough, form and proof

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it. Boil in water. Bake in the oven. “I guess the selling and eating is the last part,” he jokes. “The whole process after the dough is made is maybe half an hour.” I get to watch a smooth, practiced demonstration by Laffert. First, Laffert makes the dough: he allows yeast to bloom in water, then adds flour and salt. The dough rests for half an hour in the walk-in cooler. Then he cuts and forms the dough into the round, palm-sized bagel shapes. Laffert first shapes the dough into a snake: “It’s a bakers’ trick to help me get consistent weight.” Then he slices it into pieces and weighs each section: 5 ounces each. “Some days you just can’t get it right on. Your hand ends up being a pretty good scale.” The lumps of dough look like biscuits now, but Laffert rounds them into balls between his palms. He also shows me how to pull and crimp with my fingers into the same shape. “There’s something satisfying about working with dough. It’s very tactile,” he says. Next Laffert works the balls into the classic “rollwith-a-hole” shape. A little manual dexterity helps! Bagel disco move: take a 5 oz. ball of proofed bagel dough. Punch both thumbs through the middle. Keep one thumb in the hole and insert the other thumb in the opening from the opposite side. Quickly revolve both thumbs in opposite directions, opening a nice round hole in the middle of the dough. Presto: bagel shape! Laffert says that with New York-style bagels, they roll it out, give a twist and connect two ends. “We do it a little differently here.” Then the uncooked bagels rise slowly overnight in the cooler--puffy, pale and round.

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The next morning, the proofed bagels are cooked. Laffert plops each into a pan of boiling water (with a tablespoon of baking soda to help browning). They pop back up to bob in the rolling boil. Laffert doesn’t time it; his practiced eye knows when they’re done. He raises one partly up out of the water and lets it sink again. “These floated up nice,” he says. “You can’t really walk away from it. Depending on the dough and the water temperature it can behave differently. It tells you how long it wants to be in the water. The other morning, they were really proofed,” he says. “They were in and out of the water in about 45 seconds. You don’t want to cook them for too long.”

I DO

HAVE CUSTOMERS

WHO COME WHEN WE OPEN

TO GET BAGELS WARM RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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The bobbing bagels expand a little more, are rescued from the water and placed on a baking pan coated with cooking spray. Laffert sprinkles each with seasonings, which stick to the still-wet dough. Dehydrated, chopped onion and garlic, tiny black poppy seeds, coarse salt, pearly white sesame seeds, and shreds of Asiago cheese. He slides them into a 350º convection oven to brown for about 15 minutes. As they cook, they gain a chewy crust and soft, dense interior. They smell heavenly and the melting cheese drips savory golden fat. “I like bread in general,” Laffert confesses. “I probably shouldn’t have it cause of carbs and sugar but I’m gonna go for it anyway. It’s delicious and the process might take a little while but it’s not super intensive. It’s nice to do old-school with your hands and the water. It’s a Zen thing, before the chaos starts of cooking a thousand eggs.” Laffert says making bagels is something anyone can do. “The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. My first attempts weren’t very good at all.” Try it! Or, if you’re afraid of yeast dough--like me--find a place that makes them fresh, like Coriander. Then stay for breakfast. Their outdoor seating in nice weather is more than pleasant. Some customers place special requests for bagels; Laffert suggests calling ahead if you want to buy a dozen. To visit Coriander, see coriandercafeeastford.com.

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“ THEY SMELL HEAVENLY

AND THE MELTING CHEESE DRIPS SAVORY GOLDEN FAT.

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“LIFE

IS LIKE AN

ICE CREAM.

Enjoy it

BEFORE IT

MELTS.” 86

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CU BL

EAT Y

by Callah Racine Teresa Johnson photos 88

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ULINARY LOSSOMS:

YOUR FLOWERS

Flowers are the universal symbol of happiness and summertime. Can you name an occasion where a bountiful bouquet of flowers aren’t a welcome sight? Imagine a big, airy arrangement placed in the center of the table for everyone to gather around, talk and share a meal together. Now imagine plucking a cute little flower from that arrangement - and floating it on your cocktail, or spreading petals over a bowl of fresh greens. Edible flowers are an adorable and striking way to add color, texture and, yes, even flavor to dishes, drinks, and desserts. If you commit to “no-spray” gardening, growing your own edible flowers is a breeze and the options are endless. You might even have some plants already growing in your garden that produce fantastic edible flowers (I’m looking at you, squash blossoms). Here are a few (ok, several) of my favorite edible blooms to grow and ways to use them. Viola is the best seller on our farm (tinyacrefarm.com). We grow and pick more viola than anything else. They love the cooler weather, thrive in early spring and late autumn. They are easy to grow from seed and come in a rainbow of colors, mild in flavor with a slight wintergreen taste. Violas have little smiling faces on their petals and they look great on anything, especially on top of a cocktail’s egg white foam.

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“IMAGINE

PLUCKING A CUTE

LITTLE FLOWER FROM THAT ARRANGEMENT - AND FLOATING IT ON YOUR

COCKTAIL, OR SPREADING PETALS OVER A BOWL OF FRESH GREENS.

Nasturtium is spicy, colorful and fragrant. A heat lover that is incredibly easy to grow from seed, they will thrive through the heat of the summer and don’t even mind a little drought. Add them to anything you’d want a little kick in; we love the blooms wrapped in fresh spring rolls. The greens and stems are more spicy and less sweet, a perfect addition to the toppings on a Bloody Mary. Borage produces the cutest bite-sized blue flowers in abundance and they taste just like cucumbers. Bonus: it’s another heat lover that’s easy to grow from seed. Borage adds so much fun color to dishes. We like to keep it simple and sprinkle them over salads with bright orange calendula petals. Squash, or zucchini, blossoms are popular in Mexican cuisine and our favorite thing to deep fry, stuffed with herbed goat cheese and ricotta. Late summer produces a bumper crop of zucchini and, better yet, of zucchini blossoms. These flowers are fragile, so pick them early in the morning just as they begin to open. They have a mild squash taste and a soft pillowy texture. You can stuff and fry or bake them, press them into a quesadilla or fold into an omelet. Herb flowers are the ultimate flavor component. If you hold off on cutting the leaves from some of your herb plants, you are rewarded with beautiful and flavorpacked flowers that taste like an intense version of the mother plant. Common culinary herbs like sage, rosemary, basil and cilantro produce purple, pink, red and white blooms that can be added to hot dishes right before serving, for a visual and aromatic treat.

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EDIBLE FLOWERS A AND STRIKING WAY TO

AND,

EVEN FLAVOR TO AND DES

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“ARE AN ADORABLE

O ADD COLOR, TEXTURE

, YES,

DISHES, DRINKS, SSERTS.

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A few larger flowers have a stiff, bitter base and therefore shouldn’t be eaten whole but rather have the tender petals plucked from the base and used as edible confetti. Calendula, bachelor buttons, marigold, sweet William, sunflowers and dahlias are just a few of the varieties you could make confetti from. Flower confetti looks fantastic on a cake, against white frosting or sprinkled over a greens or fruit salad. My three-year-old niece even demanded an edible flower cake for her birthday this year (she know’s what’s up). Johnnyseeds.com is a great source for edible flower seed and has a page dedicated to many different varieties. If you aren’t interested in growing your own, many farmer’s market vendors have edible flowers available. If they don’t bring any to market, ask them about it; they likely have some available on their farm. You can find our edible flowers on the menu weekly at Sift Bake Shop (siftbakeshopmystic.com) in Mystic, Millwright’s (millwrightsrestaurant.com) in Simsbury, and Heirloom Market (heirloommkt.com) in Old Wethersfield, just to name a few. Our farm only supplies edible flowers wholesale to Connecticut restaurants, bakeries and bars. If you’re interested in finding out more about what we have to offer for wholesale, Sardilli Produce (sardilliproduce.com) supplies our edible flowers to all of Connecticut.

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“ LITTLE SMILING FACES VIOLAS HAVE

ON THEIR PETALS

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AND THEY LOOK GREAT ON ANYTHING, ESPECIALLY ON TOP OF A COCKTAIL’S EGG WHITE FOAM.

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FLOWER CONFETTI

LOOKS FANTASTIC ON A CAKE, AGAINST WHITE FROSTING OR SPRINKLED OVER A GREENS OR FRUIT SALAD.

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RICOTTA STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS WITH

TOMATO SAUCE DIP

INGREDIENTS For tomato sauce:

For squash blossoms:

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)

• 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, finely chopped • 1/2 cup water • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

• 1 large egg yolk • 2 tbsp finely chives • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided in two • 1/4 cup goat cheese • 12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour • 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

PREPARATION Make tomato sauce: Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a 2-quarts heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Prepare squash blossoms: Stir together ricotta, yolk, basil, chives, ¼ cup parmesan, ¼ cup goat cheese and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Carefully open each blossom and fill with about 2 rounded teaspoons ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling. (You may have filling left over.)

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Whisk together flour, remaining ¼ cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt. Serve with tomato sauce.

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ORANGE BLOSSOM CUPCAKES

WITH DRIED VIOLAS BY CHEF AMELIA LORD ANNA SAWIN PHOTOS

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EATING FLOWERS FEELS INDULGENT

in the best way possible. Try crumpling soft petals into beautiful disarray between your teeth and see if you don’t start grinning just a bit. There’s also nothing like the whimsy of adding dried and pressed blossoms to your plate, especially to dress up desserts. A fancy flower press is unnecessary: you can easily dry layers of violas between paper towels stuck in the pages of your heaviest cookbooks. After a few weeks you have delicate decorative beauties ready to be pressed into shortbread, scattered atop tea cakes dribbled with glaze, or for studding rich buttercream. These cupcakes are a simple way to bring dried petals center stage. Orange blossom water has a distinct floral scent (like wildflowers on a hot summer day) and is often used in Middle Eastern sweets. It can be found at

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any well-equipped grocery store and in Middle Eastern or Indian grocers. With a splash of orange blossom water these cupcakes are a little unexpected. Feel free to substitute with good vanilla extract (or rosewater for that matter) if you don’t have any orange blossom water at hand. The cupcakes will still be delicious and the dried petals will still look like delicate little butterflies perched on top of the frosting. Whack the batter together in the bowl of a stand mixer, a food processor or by hand with a wooden spoon and a good heavy bowl, being careful not to over-mix to keep the cakes light. The secret to really extraordinary buttercream is to beat the heck out of the butter. Let it go for a full five minutes on high speed before adding any of the powdered sugar, and then continue to beat for at least three minutes each time the sugar is added. The result will be airy and not too sweet.

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THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE WHIMSY OF ADDING DRIED AND PRESSED

BLOSSOMS TO YOUR PLATE, ESPECIALLY

TO DRESS UP DESSERTS.


ORANGE BLOSSOM CUPCAKES WITH DRIED VIOLAS MAKES 12 CUPCAKES

• 1 cup (175 grams) all purpose flour • 3/4 cup (175 grams) organic granulated sugar • 3/4 cup (175 grams) softened unsalted butter • 3 eggs • 2 teaspoons baking powder • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or vanilla Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl by hand), cream together the soft butter and sugar for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix on low until combined, less than one minute. Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat with the orange blossom water. Pour eggs into the stand mixer bowl while beating on medium low speed, increasing to medium until the batter is evenly blended, about 30 seconds. Fill cupcake tins with cupcake liners and fill tins evenly with batter. Bake on middle rack in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and the tops bounce back slightly when gently prodded. Remove from oven and

transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting with buttercream and decorating with dried flowers.

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“

THE SECRET TO

REALLY

EXTRAORDINARY

BUTTERCREAM IS TO BEAT THE HECK OUT OF THE BUTTER.


THE BEST BUTTERCREAM RECIPE EVER

MAKES ENOUGH FOR 12 CUPCAKES • 1 1/2 sticks (150 grams) soft unsalted butter • 3 cups (340 grams) powdered sugar • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 3 tablespoons milk • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Sift the powdered sugar over a large bowl three times to make sure there are no clumps; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the room temperature butter at medium high speed for 5 minutes. When the butter has become pale and very smooth and airy add half of the powdered sugar and beat together for 3 minutes, starting on a low speed and gradually increasing to keep powdered sugar from flying everywhere. Once the first half of the powdered sugar is fully incorporated and well beaten, add the second half and the salt. Beat for another 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating the buttercream. You may not need all of the liquid and adding too much will make a very loose frosting that will be difficult to pipe.

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Jem’s Gardens: Good Company

BY GENA GOLAS LAURIE BONNEAU PHOTOS

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Pull up a seat at Jem’s Gardens and you won’t be alone. Bring your coworkers for a homemade lunch, your family for a freshly made waffle cone filled with a local scoop or two, or just come by yourself—you won’t stay that way for long. At Jem’s it’s common to share a picnic table or a seat around a fire pit with other patrons, who are really new friends you just haven’t met yet. Or, owners Ellen and Jordan Marouski will keep you company, chatting about your day through the window of their food stand. It won’t be long before you’re made to feel at home. Home, at Jem’s Gardens, is a 24- by 14-foot former tobacco barn sitting on the site of the Marouski family’s 1880’s South Windsor homestead. Much of Ellen’s extended family still live in the area, and her roots to the community run deep. Jem’s Gardens started in the early 1990’s as a garden stand, where the vegetables, berries, herbs, and “you pick ‘em we dig ‘em” mums were grown on the plot where the food shack now stands - and in the roughly 3-acre plot across the street. Jem’s still operates their farm stand, adjacent to the food shack. “We do the basics,”

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“Everything at Jem’s is

homemade... homemade...”

says Ellen, referring to their own berries, herbs, and flowers grown at Jem’s. Other produce like apples, peaches, and corn come from friends’ farms. They sell honey harvested from their seven hives, but their regulars get first dibs. “You gotta take care of your own,” says Ellen. After many years, the recent popularity of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) began to affect the business, and the mother-daughter team looked for new ways to grow. Jordan, a small child when Jem’s Gardens first started, was now an adult and a partner in the business, able to help set its direction. In 2012 pair decided they would expand into food: to start, ice cream and homemade pies featuring Jem’s own berries. For the food alone, Jem’s is a special place. They’re still scooping up hard ice cream from Avon’s J. Foster Ice Cream; Jem’s even boasts its very own flavor, Barnyard Brawl, chock full of M&M’s,



“Jem’s uses fresh ingredien 114

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cookie dough, chocolate chips, and fudge swirl. And they still serve homemade pie with their own berries and a scratch-made crust. But it’s not just pie and ice cream anymore: Jem’s now serves a lunch menu of wraps and salads, offers popular smoothies and smoothie bowls, and features an impressive sundae list. Everything at Jem’s is homemade, down to the waffle cones, hot fudge and caramel sauce. At Jem’s you’re getting the real deal. Real-deal food is a passion for Jordan, a selfproclaimed health nut who began cooking for herself to accommodate some dietary restrictions and support a healthier lifestyle. The food at Jem’s reflects this clean eating philosophy: they use fresh ingredients, many grown themselves; they don’t cook in any oils; and the flavors come from natural ingredients, not syrups. Even if it is pie and ice cream, you can feel good about the food you’re eating. Come to Jem’s in the summer for Grammy B’s tea, a slightly sweetened lemon and mint iced tea. This is the season for it: “If the mint’s not growing, we’re not making it,” says Ellen. It’s Jordan’s great grandmother’s recipe, and so is the mint; what now grows on the grounds at Jem’s was transplanted from the side of Grammy B’s garage. In the winter, come in for their popular Healing Soup. They make it nearly every other day, and the blend of turmeric, ginger, garlic, coconut milk, rice, and a homemade vegetable broth could just be the cure for what ails you. “If you have a cold, it makes you feel good,” says Jordan. Jem’s menu changes with the season, but you can often find customer favorites like the JP Melt, with caramelized onions and peppers, turkey, American cheese, spinach, and tomato; Alex’s Manager Special smoothie bowl - a blend of strawberries, mango, pineapple and orange juice, topped with granola, whole and sliced fruit, and a honey drizzle; or the vegetarian Kristen Wrap, named after their mail lady - homemade

nts, many grown themselves.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“At Jem’s you’re getting

the real real the

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deal.” deal.

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“We can’t pay it forward m bu

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red pepper hummus, Swiss cheese, caramelized onion, sautéed peppers, and spinach.

26 years), or by car (“We have so many regulars where, as soon as you see their car, their order is ready”).

A sandwich named after the mail lady might sound unusual, but not once you get to know Ellen and Jordan. Beyond the incredible food, what makes Jem’s really remarkable is the community they’ve built with their business. “We’ve had a lot of great people in our life,” says Ellen. “Our customers are awesome.” Ellen and Jordan know most of their customers by name (“If Steve’s not here, we know something’s wrong, so we text to make sure he’s okay”), or by nickname (Ellen has been growing okra for the “Okra Lady” for the last

Just like Jem’s has become a fixture in these customers’ lives, those customers are equally a part of Ellen and Jordan’s lives. One winter, they had a neighbor who had extra turkeys he couldn’t donate, so he gave them to Jem’s. Ellen and Jordan decided to make Gobblers - casseroles full of turkey, stuffing, cranberry chutney, roasted butternut squash and sage, and mashed potatoes - to donate to the housebound elderly in the community. When the community caught wind of what Ellen and Jordan were doing, they took up a

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monetarily, them. ut we can cook for them.�

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“...end your day around the fi with Ellen and Jordan 120

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donation towards the fixings to accompany the donated turkeys. Another winter, Ellen stopped to help one of their customers, Denise, who was stranded in the snow on the side of the road. Months later, Denise gifted Ellen with an impeccable handmade Jem’s mosaic sign, now hanging above the counter at the food stand. Special touches from their customers can be found all over Jem’s Gardens. The pavers for the front patio, the open sign, a patio furniture set, and a fire pit are all gifts from customers. One regular even helped them connect with the right person at the electric company when they were facing roadblocks trying to open the food stand. “People come into your life at a certain time,” says Ellen. “So many people helped us out when we were opening. We can’t pay it forward monetarily, but we can cook for them.” Come to Jem’s and grab a seat next to a neighbor for breakfast or lunch, bring a grab-and-go dinner home to your family, pick up a pie to celebrate a special occasion with friends, or end your day around the fire pit with Ellen and Jordan in Jem’s Gardens’ backyard, among the twinkling lights strung across the lawn, with a scoop or two of Barnyard Bash. You’ll be in good company.

fire pit n in Jem’s Gardens’ backyard...” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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“....with a scoop or two of Barn

Yo

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nyard Bash.

ou’ll be in good company. company.”

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Spicy

with Fresh G inger

BY LIZ FARRELL ANNA SAWIN PHOTOS

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WIT H A NEARLY UNIVERSAL APPEAL, A WIDE VARIET Y OF USES, AND A 5,000YEAR HISTORY, GINGER HAS A PLACE IN OUR CUISINE AND NOW IN OUR CONNECT ICUT FARMS AND GARDENS, TOO. I started growing ginger in Connecticut in 2013, encouraged by a few farmers in Maine and Massachusetts who posted tips on how to grow it, where to purchase the planting stock, and how to price it for markets. It seems, though, that I’m not really on to something new: folks have been squirreling away their secret “ginger pots” for years (generations, probably), in a sunny, warm corner of the house, using a store-bought piece of ginger and harvesting small amounts at a time (more on that, below). Ginger cultivars are also grown for their showy flowers; Logees in Danielson, Connecticut usually has some blooming in their greenhouses. First, a quick word on ginger. There are many, many varieties of edible ginger root (which is technically a rhizome), and while I have not developed any expertise in the different taste profiles of these varieties, there are experts in the world who have. A few years ago my husband met the quality control manager and

“.. a 5,000-year history, ginger has a place in our cuisine

- and now in our Connecticut farms and gardens, 128

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, too.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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‘chief taster’ of a world-wide beverage corporation, long since retired. Part of his job was to develop all the ginger extract for every ginger ale made in the global operation. Naturally, we sent a sample of our baby ginger to him to taste. He wrote back and exclaimed that the ginger had “that nice lemony taste of lemon oil…and when I bite into the root, it is really strong - I could feel [the] capillaries in my ears dilating.” Second, a word about baby ginger versus mature ginger. The ginger available in the produce section of our grocery stores is the mature root, harvested and cured so it keeps for long periods of time. The baby ginger we grow in New England will never reach the

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mature stage. Fresh baby ginger will have a more intense flavor which may cause the aforementioned ear capillary dilation. It’s white-pink in color (or blue or yellow, depending on the variety), with no brown skin. It is not fibrous, and it only keeps for a few weeks in the refrigerator. The entire baby ginger plant is edible, as well. Baylee Drown of Upper Pond Farm in Lyme and Old Lyme suggests making a tea with chopped up leaves, and even snacking on the ‘water roots’ which grow out of the rhizome. “They are just a weaker version taste-wise - of the rhizome, and since these are the mechanisms for the plant to take up water, they are refreshing to snack on,” says Drown.

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For the gardener or farmer, here’s how to grow ginger in New England: • Start with ginger rhizome from a reliable (i.e. disease-free) source. Generally the root stock is available to purchase in the fall and ships in the late winter. Fedco Seeds and Hawaiian Organic Ginger are two sources. If you are container-growing, a certified-organic store-bought may work fine, but they can be a source for soil-borne diseases. Non-organic ginger may be treated with anti-sprouting compounds. • Pre-sprout the ginger in a warm, slightly moist place to activate the growing mechanisms. It doesn’t need light at this point. • Plant the pieces about 6” deep and 8” apart when the soil is about 70F, giving the roots plenty of organic matter, nitrogen, and lots of water in a well-drained and very sunny location. It does not have to be in a greenhouse; it will grow outside (but with lower yields). Alternatively, place a few pieces in a big container, water every day, and keep it in the sun. • After several stalks emerge and are 1’ tall, hill the roots. They grow upwards and outwards so hilling will encourage more growing! It may take 4-6 weeks for the stalks to reach this height. • Leave the roots growing for as long as possible. Harvest before the soil reaches 50 degrees (they will rot at low temperatures), usually November in Connecticut. Earlier harvests are fine, but the plant puts on the most growth in the fall.


“Ginger does not have to be grown in a greenhouse; it will grow outside.”

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“Fresh baby ginger will have a more int To purchase baby ginger to eat, look for it at CSAs (like Upper Pond Farm in Lyme and Old Lyme), farmer’s markets, and independent food retailers who have connections to local farmers. Harvest usually begins in September and can continue through November. After harvesting or purchasing baby ginger, keep what you will consume in 2 weeks out on the counter or in the fridge (in a sealed bag), and freeze the rest. Don’t leave the green stalks on the root or the foliage will eventually deplete the root in order to stay alive.

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tense flavor.”

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Ideas for using your fresh, local baby ginger rhizomes: • Add it to stir-fries, Indian cuisine, and Asian dishes in place of powdered ginger - add it sliced, match-stick style, or grated. • Slice and pickle. • Slice and dehydrate them in a very low oven or dehydrator. • Grind dried slices in a spice grinder. • Grate it and simmer it in hot water for about 20 minutes. Strain, and drink as a hot tea or store as ice cubes. Add sugar to the simmering water in sufficient quantities to make a ginger syrup. • Use it in preserves, chutneys, and other pickle recipes. • Add to baked apple dishes -- pies, crumbles, cakes, slumps, grunts. • It can be grated straight from the freezer - just like mature ginger and returned to the freezer. Don’t let it thaw once it’s frozen.

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“The entire baby ginger plant is edible...” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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SOURCES: Fat Stone Farm, fatstonefarm.com Upper Pond Farm, upperpondfarm.com Logees Greenhouse (Fruiting, Rare, and Tropical Plants), logees.com Liz Farrell lives in Lyme, CT, and grows, harvests, forages, and preserves 60 different fruits, berries, herbs, and vegetables at Fat Stone Farm. She also works a maple syrup rig (evaporator) in a pinch.

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Make Your Own

Candied Ginger BY WINTER CAPLANSON

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Sweet, spicy, chewy, crunchy

delicious homemade candied ginger isn’t hard to make! Sugar, water, and fresh ginger root are all you need! Candied ginger can be chopped into small pieces and added to baked goods like cookies, breads, and cakes. It’s also nice served after dinner, as-is, or with the slices dipped halfway in dark chocolate. For an aromatic ginger tea, steep a piece of candied ginger in a cup of hot water for a few minutes. Package your candied ginger for a hostess gift or use it to make Ginger-Infused Sugar to be spooned into little jars for party favors. Growing your own ginger, or buying it from a local farmer you trust, means you may enjoy health benefits from good quality root in addition to feisty flavor. Ginger is used to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain associated with it; as a digestive aid and treatment for nausea; and as an immunity booster. Executive Chef Jessica Bengtson, of Westport’s Terrain Garden Café, shares her easy method for making candied ginger. Save the syrup created in the process to make her spicy summer cocktail!

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“Sugar, water, and fresh ginger root are all

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you need!”

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Candied Ginger 1 lb. ginger root

3 cups sugar (2.5 for boiling, reserve .5 cup for second step) 4 cups water Peel and slice ginger (CT-grown baby ginger has tender skin that does not need to be peeled). Boil water and sugar to make a simple syrup. Simmer ginger in simple syrup for 1 hour. Remove ginger from liquid and toss in .5 cup granulated sugar until fully coated. Dry ginger on cookie rack for at least 2 hours.

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Hibiscus Ginger Cooler 1 oz Ketel One grapefruit rose vodka .5 oz ginger syrup (the simple syrup ginger was boiled in above) 3 oz lemonade 3 oz hibiscus tea 1 orange slice 2 oz candied ginger, pulverized Rim your glass of choice with juice from a fresh orange slice, then dip into crushed candied ginger. Combine liquids and pour over ice.

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Executive Chef Jessica Bengtson, of Westport’s Terrain Garden Café

“.. you may enjoy health benefits from good quality ginger root in addition to feisty flavor.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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ENJOY THE DOG DAYS OF

SUMMER AT THESE PUP-FRIENDLY EATERIES BY MARILYNN TURNER CARLA MCELROY PHOTOS

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It’s summertime in Connecticut, and there’s nothing better than spending time with your BFF - your four-pawed furry BFF, that is - at a relaxing summer eatery. There are quite a few dog-friendly eateries to be found around the state!

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WRASSLIN CATS EAST HADDAM TWO

Despite its name, Two Wrasslin’ Cats at 374 Town Street in East Haddam will welcome your pooch with open paws. Resident cats Bruno and Larry - and ow Mark Thiede - find the outdoor deck is the perfect place for you to enjoy a me your favorite dog. You can even mosey around in the grass below, explore the garden or the small stream, and there’s a spigot with running water in case Fid parched from all that summer sun.

The menu offers an assortment of soups, sandwiches, salads or ice cream, and are even doggie cookies you can purchase for your furry pal.

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wner eal with flower do gets

d there

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WHISTLE STOP CAFE DEEP RIVER Down the road a bit in Deep River you and your pooch can get cozy together inside the dining room at the Whistle Stop CafĂŠ. Owner Hedy Watrous and her daughters Madeleine and Norma run this tiny eatery located at 108 Main Street. A rare restaurant that allows dogs inside the dining room, the Whistle Stop CafĂŠ is open from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day, and while you savor your eggs Benedict with a side of home fries, your furry friend can enjoy a specially made meal with a brown rice base and other doggie-friendly and nutritious ingredients, made by Norma.

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At the Burger Bar and Bistro, 60 Main Street in Norwalk, there is an entire menu of pup-friendly treats. All dogs at the Burger Bar get a fresh bowl of ice water, a bone, and their meal is served in a special dish. Bonus: any leftovers are packed in a leak-proof doggie bag. All canine patrons must be leashed, and are only allowed in the outdoor area of the restaurant. Jose Mandujano, a

SALEM VALLEY SALEM

Sometimes all you want is a big, yumm at 20 Darling Road in Salem is a favo - and our canine companions. They se $2.95 topped with a doggie bone. Th space to play doggie Frisbee after en

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Y FARMS

my scoop of ice cream. Salem Valley Farms orite summertime ice cream spot for humans erve up a “pup cup” of vanilla ice cream for here are picnic tables and lots of outdoor njoying a cool treat.

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MUDDY WATERS CAFE NEW LONDON At Muddy Waters Café, 42 Bank Street in New London, you and your pooch can take in views of the Thames River as you relax on the deck and enjoy breakfast or lunch. Depending on the day, you might be greeted by the Muddy Waters’ mascot dog Murray, a four-month-old wired haired fox terrier, who meets his trainer at the restaurant on Tuesdays and Thursdays. bartender at the Burger Bar, said, “our dogs are part of as thethey’re family,well-behaved, and it’s a beautiful thing to “I love dogs,” said owner Susan Devlin. “As long they’re have lunch with the family and the dog.” welcome here on the deck,” she added. He saidFrench that popular menu include the “Today we had a visit from a very well-behaved Bulldog. A lotitems of people potato hotwhen dogs,you andcan’t vanilla ice travel with their pets, and they’re part of sweet our family; it’sfries, terrible cream. He added that all dogs are welcome to bring them with you,” said Devlin. dine at the outdoor patio as long as they are leashed and well-mannered. Of course, service dogs are always welcome inside and out at the state’s hospitality establishments. Connecticut law requires public accommodations to permit people who are blind, deaf, or mobility impaired to use service dogs to help them.

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ALVARIUM NEW BRITAIN

BEER COMPANY

Dogs are welcome in the outdoor area at the Alvarium Beer Company in New Britain. The brewery located at 365 Downey Drive has dog portraits on the wall and even has a “Dogs of Alverium” Instagram page, according to Taproom Manager Kate Bugnacki. Alvarium considers itself to be both dog-friendly and family friendly. “All pups that visit us need to be well-behaved, socialized, leashed, and use their inside voices,” said Bugnacki. “No barky, barky,” she added. “We have a front area for bathroom breaks, that even has a doggie bag dispenser, and a patio for pups who want to express how excited they are to visit us,” she said. They’ve even added doggy beer (non-alcoholic, of course) to the menu that you can share a treat with your best friend.

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BURGER BAR & BISTRO NORWALK At the Burger Bar and Bistro, 60 Main Street in Norwalk, there is an entire menu of pup-friendly treats. All dogs at the Burger Bar get a fresh bowl of ice water, a bone, and their meal is served in a special dish. Bonus: any leftovers are packed in a leak-proof doggie bag. All canine patrons must be leashed, and are only allowed in the outdoor area of the restaurant. Jose Mandujano, a bartender at the Burger Bar, said, “our dogs are part of the family, and it’s a beautiful thing to have lunch with the family and the dog.”

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He said that popular menu items include the sweet potato fries, hot dogs, and vanilla ice cream. He added that all dogs are welcome to dine at the outdoor patio as long as they are leashed and well-mannered. Of course, service dogs are always welcome inside and out at the state’s hospitality establishments. Connecticut law requires public accommodations to permit people who are blind, deaf, or mobility impaired to use service dogs to help them.

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TIPS FOR TAK OUTING: Consid

with treats, water, doggie toy - and a cloth for wipin

Also, when taking your dog better for their safety and

Once you reach your desti your feet as you dine and there.

Do consider basic obedien Club’s Canine Good Citize dog can be mannerly in al

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KING YOUR DOG ON AN

der their comfort when away from home. Pack a bag bags, perhaps a favorite non-bouncy, non-squeaky ng drool.

g to a public place, don’t use a retractable leash. It’s yours.

ination, your dog should be able to remain quietly by not interrupt other diners or their pets that may be

nce training, and preparing for the American Kennel en test, which, once passed, demonstrates that your lmost any situation.

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“ winter caplanson photo

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“I am more myself in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” - DOUGH GREENE

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WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTOS WITH CATHERINE ELLIOTT ART

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Want to clean up the way you do laundry, using products that don’t include the toxic chemicals found in many detergents and dryer sheets? Clothes are much happier with gentler ingredients found in all-natural laundry products that can help reduce wear and tear on fibers, reduce color fading, and keep your duds looking newer, longer. And making the all-natural switch cuts down on chemicals seeping into soil and groundwater. These four Connecticut natural laundry product creators are making laundry a much healthier and more environmentally-friendly chore.

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Lyric Hill Farm produces eco-friendly laundry detergent, packaged in USA-made refillable tins in unscented, or essential oil scents of lavender or lemongrass. It contains only a few simple ingredients, including: borax, a blend of natural mineral salts, essential oil, and the farm’s own goat’s milk soap. When combined, they’re powerful at removing dirt, deodorizing, disinfecting, and

Pro tip:

Lyric Hill laundry detergent may be custom-ordered in any of their 32 soap fragrances including bay-lime, Earl Grey, citrusbasil, and chamomile-calendula.

removing stains…yet gentle on fabric. Only a tablespoon or two of Lyric Hill Farm laundry detergent are needed per load and it works in all types of washing machines. It’s safe for delicates and baby laundry, works in hard water, and does not contain fillers or chemicals that can clog pipes or harm septic systems. You may already know Lyric Hill Farm for their lovely goat’s milk soap made from sustainably grown oils, local honey, and their own goat’s milk. Pro tip: their laundry detergent may be custom-ordered in any of their 32 soap fragrances including baylime, Earl Grey, citrus-basil, and chamomilecalendula.

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Felted wool dryer balls reduce the time clothes need in the dryer and help to eliminate static. Each about the size of a tennis ball, they make dryer sheets obsolete and can be used for many years.

Herd Supply Co.

makes theirs from the naturally-white, felted wool roving of their flock of East Friesian and Dorset crossed sheep happily grazing in Glastonbury. Like scented clothes? Add a few drops of essential oil to each ball to scent your laundry! CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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All in on patchouli? This one’s for you!

Nutmeg

Naturals’ vegan patchouli laundry soap is made using their handmade soap, ground into a fine powder, then added

to washing soda, borax, baking soda, and patchouli essential oil. Packaged in a brown kraft bag, order the 1 lb. or 3 lb. size patchouli laundry soap or opt for other essential oil scents, lemongrass or lavender-orange. Nutmeg Naturals also makes wool dryer balls but theirs are available either un-dyed or tinted with colorfast dye to offer a palette from moss to marsala, peacock, heather, turquoise, and amethyst. A set of three is excellent for medium-size loads of laundry, but the more you use, the better the results. The dryer balls are packaged in a USA-made cotton muslin drawstring bag and come with an FAQ sheet, making them a perfect gift for housewarming, hostess, or new baby. We love the essential oil blends they stock for scenting dryer balls and thus whole loads of laundry, including lemongrass-orange and patchouli-lavender. Nothing beats hanging your fresh, clean laundry out to dry on a warm summer day. Add a bit of charm and organization to your laundry day with Nutmeg Naturals’ handmade clothespin bag, available in several pretty prints!

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ColeMama Creations’ solid and sturdy rope clothespin basket

buttons onto your clothesline so you can slide it along as you hang or take down the wash. Each basket is one-of-a-kind, made with heavy duty 100% natural cotton cord, dyed with a custom color blend, and constructed by hand on an industrial sewing machine.

Each basket

one-of-akind, made with is

heavy duty 100% natural cotton cord, dyed with a custom color blend, and constructed by hand on an industrial sewing machine.

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yourself by making an all-natural fabric freshener spray!

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 1 tbsp. of baking soda 2 cups of distilled water 10 drops of essential oil for scent Combine all and pour into a clean spray bottle.

“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting

” – EB White

the laundry.

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D PIZZA A Nonconformist’s Dream by Jennifer C. LaVoie Lisa Nichols photos

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GRILLING PIZZA IS A NONCONFORMIST’S DREAM: IT ALLOWS US TO CREATE WHAT WE LOVE TO EAT, 184

piled on top of a yeasty, char-grilled dough, without all the trappings and rules of pizza making. Don’t despair, conformists: grilled pizza still respects the customs of traditional pizza making. While it may seem unconventional, this method makes sense once you understand the process, and we’re sharing some simple, delicious recipes courtesy of Molly Baker, owner of Lets Start From Scratch. In fact, Molly says it best: “It’s your pizza. Live your best life.” Lets Start from Scratch offers healthy in-home cooking classes, personal chef services, boutique catering and healthy meal preparation with delivery, while emphasizing the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. I spent an afternoon with Molly and her two adorable daughters making our own grilled pizzas. We made

four different types on the grill: Shahi marinated paneer; lemon honey herbed ricotta with balsamic reduction; a “kid’s” version with broccoli, marinara and mozzarella; and a dessert pizza. Why grill your pie? Pizza needs scorching heat to achieve the kind of crust that we all crave, and most home ovens just don’t have the conditions to generate the same type of heat that a pizzeria oven can, but using a grill gets us as close as we can to the heat needed to make a really great pizza. Molly explained the benefits of putting the dough on a grill as opposed to an oven: “The dough achieves the complexity of flavor from the grill that you don’t get when it’s in the oven, and the dough itself takes on a life of its own – serving as the vessel for all the things you want on a pizza.”

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“THE DOUGH ITSELF TAKE – SERVING AS THE VESSE

you want on

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ES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN EL FOR ALL THE THINGS ”

on a pizza.

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GRILLED PIZZA IS A TERRIFIC WAY TO INCORPORATE YOUR OWN STYLE WHILE EMBRACING A CLASSIC FOOD. The dough recipe we provide is very simple, but we know this fundamental step can be intimidating to some. Some tips for making a truly great dough: first, the ingredients. Use good quality olive oil and flour. Make sure the water temperature is between 105 and 110 degrees. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and you won’t get the rise you want. This dough will keep in the refrigerator overnight; just make sure it’s covered with a little olive oil and then covered in plastic wrap. After taking it out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes on the counter. And remember: the dough is quite forgiving. Molly’s philosophy on grilling pizza - and

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her approach to achieving a balance of healthy eating - is to be “creative, have fun, and just be you.” As for toppings, there are endless possibilities - and the best resource for diverse, fresh ingredients is your local farmers’ market. Pro tip: get your kids or guests involved in making the meal by bringing them to shop for ingredients. This makes the “farm to table” concept more interesting - and encourages creativity, too. Grilled pizza is a terrific way to incorporate your own style while embracing a classic food. It allows you to be creative, take advantage of fresh, healthy ingredients - and brings excitement to the ultimate comfort food. Live your best life and get grilling!

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The dough ACHIEVES THE COMPLEXITY OF

FLAVOR FROM THE GRILL THAT YOU DON’T GET WHEN IT’S IN THE OVEN.”

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Dough Recipe (makes

3 to 4 pies depending

on the desired size)

INGREDIENTS 1 package dry active yeast (or if not using pre-packaged yeast use 2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil (extra for bowl)

1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 110-degree F)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (use good quality flour such as King Arthur) DIRECTIONS Take a large bowl and grease the sides with olive oil and set aside. In a mixing bowl with a dough hook add all the dry ingredients.

Add the yeast to the warm water and mix thoroughly.

Flatten each ball of dough 1 at a time on a lightly floured work surface. When rolling, turn the dough slightly after each roll. This allows the dough to naturally stretch its shape. Don’t worry about it being perfectly round. This is supposed to be fun!

Add olive oil and then water slowly until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

Place each dough on a baking sheet to transfer out to the grill and brush the dough with olive oil.

If the dough is too sticky (if you can’t pick up the dough ball without pulling it off your fingers to transfer) add a tablespoon of flour, one tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water until you get the consistency needed.

A clean, hot grill is a must! Scrape whatever is left on your grill from previous grilling and get your grill temperature high, then bring the temperature down a bit.

Mix the dry ingredients slowly until combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead dough until it is a smooth ball, but don’t over-knead. Place dough in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour. While dough is rising, this is a great time to prepare your toppings! After the dough has risen for 1 hour, punch the dough down and divide it in half. The

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dough can be divided into smaller balls if you prefer a smaller pie. Roll each piece into a ball and let it rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the dough on the grill (olive oil side down). Check the doneness of the dough by taking tongs and lifting gently to see if it’s browning nicely. When browned nicely, flip it over, brush a little more olive oil and grill on the other side. Place prepared toppings on the dough and then put the cover down on the grill. Check frequently, but most pizzas take 5 minutes or so until done.

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Shahi Marinated Paneer Grilled Pizza

The Shahi Marinated Paneer Pizza provides a juxtaposition of bold spices, and rich sauce to the creaminess of the paneer. To those who are unfamiliar with paneer, it is a cheese most often used in Indian or other South Asian food. It is a very versatile cheese that is mild in flavor and will absorb the spices or seasonings that you are using. In this grilled pizza recipe, what makes paneer perfect is that it doesn’t melt like most other cheese and allows for a perfect counterbalance to the rich sauce. This pizza is a great option for vegetarians. The squeaky, fresh cheese of the paneer is the highlight of this dish, but you can add a protein or extra veggies if you wish. For the sauce base you can use a Saag or Masala base - both are equally delicious. Fenugreek is a very bold spice that is bitter with a slight butterscotch/maple syrup aroma. When cooked in oil it mellows, and the bitterness is cooked out. Use the powder form of fenugreek (it’s much easier to work with) as opposed to fresh/dry leaves or seeds, and use it sparingly as it can overpower your sauce. As Molly was spooning the sauce onto the pizza, the aroma of the spices and the rich, deep color of the sauce literally made my heart race. “I just have a love affair with paneer,” Molly said - and I can certainly understand this. This pizza is just like a great love affair: spicy, exciting, and delicious.

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Paneer Marinade INGREDIENTS

Paneer (12-ounce brick). Fresh or frozen (if frozen allow it to soften up in the refrigerator before marinating) 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, or ¼ teaspoon dry ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon turmeric ½ teaspoon cumin 1 tablespoon lime juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons chutney (homemade or store bought) DIRECTIONS Cut the paneer into small pieces, place in a bowl and fill with lukewarm water. Set aside to soften the paneer for about 30 minutes. In a bowl combine the spices, lime juice, olive oil and chutney. Drain the water from the paneer and add it to your marinade. Let it marinate for at least an hour, but overnight really lets the flavor deepen. Paneer will take on whatever flavor is added to it, so the longer you let it marinate the better. Pro Tip: There are many really good chutneys, so pick your favorite, or make your own. Molly used a homemade apple/ginger chutney for our recipe, but a mango chutney would also work wonderfully with this recipe.

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Shahi Sauce INGREDIENTS

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, or ¼ teaspoon dry ¼ teaspoon coriander ¼ teaspoon red chili powder 1 tablespoon fenugreek 1 tomato, chopped 1 Serrano chili pepper, finely chopped

¼ cup onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic 2 to 4 tablespoons garam masala Salt and pepper to taste Optional: ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup lightly toasted almond slices

PREPARE THE SAUCE Sauté the dry ingredients on low until lightly fragrant; then, add the oil. Add the onion, fresh ginger (if using), Serrano chili pepper, garlic, tomato and garam masala. The sauce should be thick so that the grilled dough does not get soggy. If it needs to be thinned out add a small bit of milk or Greek yogurt. A vegan option to thin the sauce is to soak raw cashews, blend into a creamy consistency and add almond milk. After thinning out the sauce, cook for another minute or so and taste to see if additional spice(s) are needed. Optional add-ins are raisins (soak them for about a ½ hour in warm water) and toasted almonds for texture. These can be added to the sauce in the last minutes of preparation. SAUTÉING THE PANEER Heat a small to medium sauté pan. Drain the paneer from the marinade. I added the marinade with the paneer because I wanted to incorporate the marinade into the sauce. The paneer was still able to get nice and brown even with the extra marinade. Sauté the paneer in the pan, tossing regularly so it browns on the sides. You can skip this last step, but the browned edges add a depth of flavor to the paneer. Add paneer to the prepared sauce. Cook the dough on each side until desired grilled coloring is achieved. Build the sauce slowly and evenly so you can tell what the dough can handle. Close to warm. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Lemon Honey Herbed Ricotta Pizza WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

On the other flavor spectrum of the Shahi Paneer is the Lemon Honey Herbed Ricotta Pizza. This pizza uses the same idea of balancing flavors, but in a much subtler way. The lemon and honey perfectly complement each other and when added to the ricotta - which has a tangy, slightly salty taste - it gives the pizza a depth of flavor that will surprise you. Add your favorite fresh herbs to the ricotta, a sprinkling of crumbled bacon and the final flourish of the balsamic reduction and you’ve got a masterpiece.

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INGREDIENTS ½ to ¾ cups ricotta

Splash of milk to loosen the ricotta

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 to 2 tablespoons honey ½ cup parmesan cheese Handful finely chopped parsley

BALSAMIC REDUCTION: 1/2 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar 5 teaspoons sugar

DIRECTIONS Mix ricotta, lemon juice, garlic, honey, parmesan and parsley. Add a splash of milk to loosen the ricotta. To make the balsamic reduction: In a small saucepan, place the balsamic vinegar and the sugar. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer until the vinegar is reduced to 3 to 4 tablespoons and is the consistency of honey. The balsamic reduction has a caramelized, sweet-mellowed vinegar flavor. Cook lightly grilled pizza on both sides until a nice brown color is achieved. Add the ricotta, close the grill to soften. Add extra honey and sprinkle bacon on top. Close briefly then drizzle balsamic reduction. Close to warm.

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Dessert Pizza

The desert pizza’s combination of peanut butter/honey mix and chocolate chunks on a thin, crispy crust is like a really homey Kit-Kat bar. Let this pizza sit for a bit if you would like a less messy pizza, giving the peanut butter a chance to cool. However, we couldn’t wait - and relished the gooey, hot deliciousness of it all. INGREDIENTS 1 cup fresh ground peanut butter (or any nut butter you like) 1 to 2 tablespoons of local honey (more if you like) ¼ cup chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate bar Bacon, cooked and crumbled DIRECTIONS Cook lightly grilled pizza on both sides until a nice brown color is achieved. Build your pizza with peanut butter and chocolate. Close to let melt. Add bacon. Close to warm. Let the pizza sit for a bit if you would like a less messy pizza. The peanut butter will cool and should remain on the pizza.

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MOLLY’S PHILOSOPHY ON GRILLING PIZZA IS TO BE “CREATIVE, HAVE FUN, AND JUST BE YOU.” 200

Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies Pizza – AKA “KIDS” PIZZA

The “Kids” pizza appeals to both kids and parents because the dreaded broccoli is incorporated in a way that is fun and not some hulking piece of green that no kid wants to eat. Molly gets her girls to eat their broccoli by chopping it into very small pieces, or - as her girls call it - “smooshed,” and sautéing the broccoli with a little butter and a dash of salt. By cutting it up into smaller pieces you can incorporate the stalks, too (just remember to cut the tough outside of the broccoli stalks before chopping them up). Add some marinara, fresh mozzarella and voilà - veggie pizza is devoured! INGREDIENTS 1 cup of fresh broccoli, stems included 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter Dash of salt Fresh ground pepper ¼ cup to ½ cup of marinara Fresh mozzarella torn into chunks Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional) DIRECTIONS Cook lightly grilled pizza on both sides until a nice brown color is achieved. Build your pizza by spooning on the marinara, the fresh mozzarella and “smooshed” broccoli. Add cooked bacon if desired. Close to let the cheese melt.

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Summer’s Bounty: HOT WATER BATH CANNING TOMATOES

BY SARAH LEFRANÇOIS

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CHRISTOPHER ANDREW & SARAH LEFRANÇOIS PHOTOS

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"The beauty of processing

tomatoes is that it can be as easy or as complex

as you want it to be." Pick, pack, chop, bubble, boil, process. This is the rhythm that overtakes my kitchen from when the first batch of tomatoes turn red in August, to when the very last are delicately taken off of vine at the end of September. During this time, there is not a span of more than a few days that passes without a pot of sauce on the stove. The beauty of processing tomatoes is that it can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. It can take a day, or an entire season. Personally, I like to start my seedlings in the early spring - a mix of Roma and San Marzano tomatoes, both of the paste variety - because I enjoy the process of going from seed to sauce. I like having my hand in every aspect of the creation of the final product. We nurture the seedlings throughout the summer, and once the warmer days of August hit and the fruit turns red, our evenings are spent as a family filling our harvest baskets with tomatoes and hauling them inside. No matter how the tomato looks - bumped, bruised, or split - it gets thrown into the pot.

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Once we have enough to get a pot of sauce going, the process I follow is simple: I rinse the tomatoes, quarter them, cut away the bad spots, and put them in a pot to gently simmer until they break down. While the sauce is bubbling away, I take a large stock pot and fill it with enough water to cover an inch over the rim of my tallest jars (I use either pint or quart sized jars) and bring that water to a boil. l often put the jars in the water as it’s starting to boil so that they become sterilized, though it’s not a necessary process if your jars are clean. As the tomatoes break down, I pop in my immersion blender to break up the pulp, seeds and skins. (Note: some choose to remove the seeds and skins before, but I leave them in). Once the sauce is boiled down to the thickness that I like, I pull the jars out of the hot water, and begin to fill them with the sauce base, leaving an inch of headspace at the top. While I prefer not to add anything to my sauce so that it can be used as a blank slate for whatever I’m making throughout the year, it is necessary to

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add citric acid for safe shelf storage: ¼ tsp for pint-sized jars, and ½ tsp for quart jars. It is important in processing tomatoes that you stick with tried and true recipes, usually found on websites such as Ball Canning, Better Homes and Gardens, Local Extension Centers, and my favorite: foodinjars.com. You cannot just hot water bath can a pre-made jar of your family’s sauce recipe. Items that usually go into saucefat, onions, garlic- will often change the pH level of the tomatoes and render them unstable for shelf storage, which means they become an environment susceptible to growing botulism spores. This type of sauce - sauce with “addons” - is a better candidate for pressure canning. Once the jars are filled with an inch of headspace, I wipe around the rim of the jar to clean it and tighten down the lid and ring. This then goes into the big pot of boiling water for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of processing, each jar is carefully taken out with a jar lifter, placed on a folded kitchen towel, and left to cool. Once cool, I remove the rings (it’s important to store your jars with the rings off so that they don’t rust into place, and if you have a faulty seal it becomes evident) and test the lids. You’ll hear the satisfying “ping” of a lid that’s creating a good seal, and 24 hours later, if the lids don’t come loose, the jars are ready to be stored! This year, we put in about 40 tomato plants, and I was able to put up 50 quarts and 13 pints of tomato sauce to store and use throughout the year. I also like to roast and freeze my tomatoes - especially the heirloom varieties - and use them in pasta and on pizza. I’ll roast them in my oven, and then freeze them on cookie sheets over parchment paper before vacuum sealing them in packs to have a taste of summer throughout the year. Alternatively, while I have a constant pot of sauce on the stove throughout

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"No matter how the tomato looks - bumped, bruised, 206

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the tomato harvest season, those who can’t or choose not to grow tomatoes can still process in mass quantities by purchasing a bushel or two of tomatoes from a local farm.

Over a medium flame, the tomatoes are watched and stirred with giant wooden spoons or oars. After a long while of breaking down the flesh and starting to simmer off that water,

For example, my cousin Jeffrey, who lives in New York City, joins a friend’s family in Queens each year to make his sauce in a single day. His words say it best:

large saucepans are used to send the stewed tomatoes through the food mill.

“We work in large scale: bushels at a time are dumped into clean 50-gallon garbage cans with the garden hose filling them with water, a constant bath to wash off the plump red rubies. Two bushels are washed at a time. This year, we did 12 bushels in a day. The tomatoes are quartered, put in a pot, and moved over a big propane burner.

You do this twice -- the first time it’s super juicy. The second, you take the pulp, seeds, and that first round of extracts and run that through again. This step really brings out the paste, and extracts as much flavor as possible. All the while, my friend’s family is communicating in Italian, we’re sipping wine, and everyone is rotating positions. There’s a constant flow of antipasto plates of food (though the morning starts

or split - it gets thrown into the pot."” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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in New York fashion with bagels and cream cheese). Once the mill makes the sauce, that goes back on the burner to reduce down. Jars are placed on the tables, and a few of us plunge big saucepans into the vat of plain red tomato sauce and fill the jars. It’s hot liquid, there’s laughing and yelling from the splashes burning up, but that’s part of the fun. It wouldn’t be a day of sauce making if you didn’t have the burns to prove you spent the day making food for the seasons ahead…a labor of sweat, smiles, and love. Then someone starts putting the lids on (with the requisite tight seal) An hour later, they’re tightened again. All the tables are filled with jars, and we use laundry baskets lined with blankets, too. They’re covered with what seems like hundreds of blankets so they cool slowly. The day ends with a huge dinner of pasta, steaks, eggplant, lots of wine, and too much dessert. The smiles never stop. After dinner, I catch the Long Island Railroad back to Manhattan to crash in bed, eager to wait a week to pick up my jars once they’ve comfortably cooled. My friend’s mom doesn’t let anyone take their jars that day for fear they’ll break or not cool properly. A defender of tradition, and I’m fine with that. A week later, I head back out to Flushing to pick up my 60 jars of sauce, and I’m stocked for the year until it runs out or I give it away.” Whether you raise tomatoes from seed to sauce, start with store-bought seedlings, or buy tomatoes by the bushel, the tradition of coming together to make sauce for personal use or to share with family and friends is incredibly rewarding, and easier than most realize.

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"stick with tried and true recipes" 210

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SIMPLE HOT WATER BATH TOMATOES FOR SHELF STORAGE YOU WILL NEED: • 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (about 8 to 11 medium) per quart • Water • Citric acid or bottled lemon juice • Salt (optional) • Quart or pint glass jars and lids DIRECTIONS 1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside. WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Trim away any green areas and cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.

2. ADD ½ tsp citric acid or 2 tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar; ADD ¼ tsp citric acid or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar. 3. PACK tomatoes in hot jars, pressing down, until space between tomatoes fills with juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 4. ADD 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired.

5. REMOVE air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. 6. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner 1 hour and 25 minutes for pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

ROASTED TOMATOES FOR FREEZING INGREDIENTS • Olive oil for greasing pan plus additional for drizzling (optional) • Tomatoes, cut into slices ½ inch thick • 3/4 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper • 1 tsp sugar PREPARATION 1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a shallow baking pan. 2. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a single layer in pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sugar. 3. Roast tomatoes until skins are wrinkled and beginning to brown on bottom, about 1 hour.

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4. After tomatoes cool, carefully lift on to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and place in the freezer. 5. Frozen tomatoes can then be taken and vac sealed or stored in a freezer bag with most of the air squished out.

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Behind the Pages

our contributors

Nicole Bedard is a brand photographer who loves

to work with entrepreneurs and creatives to tell their visual stories. Home baker, mom and fueled by coffee. Follow on IG: nbedardphotog

Laurie Bonneau retired early from academic life in

biological research to return to her former life as a photographer, now mostly for farms and farmers, and nonprofit organizations she loves.

Erica Buehler is a new but passionate plant mom

and, not to brag, her English Ivy is thriving. Catch her playing in the dirt when she’s not writing!

Cris Cadiz should probably avoid bagels but won’t--

especially when they are handmade, fresh-baked and oozing Asiago at Coriander Café--where she might also be found writing on her laptop.

Winter Caplanson, our Editor in Chief, is a

photographer and writer devoted to sharing stories of the local food movement and, also, Blundstone boots, blueberry wine, and Brimfield.

Liz Farrell lives in Lyme, CT, and grows, harvests, forages, and preserves 60 different fruits, berries, herbs, and vegetables at Fat Stone Farm. She also works a maple syrup rig (evaporator) in a pinch.

Gena Golas’ favorite things about summer: beach

days, the smell of tomato plants, outdoor dining, farmers’ markets, iced coffee, and her grandfather’s roses blooming.

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Teresa Johnson isn’t afraid to admit that she’s a

grammar snob; she puts it to good use as a copy editor for this magazine. When she’s not sharpening her red pen, Teresa is a full-time, documentary-style wedding photographer, and also indulges her love of HGTV by photographing real estate.

Sarah Lefrancois teaches photography, graphics,

and illustration to high schoolers in Norwich, CT. She is spending her summer break raising her two young outdoor adventurers to help in the garden!

Jennifer LaVoie is a grilled pizza making machine

after learning how to make Molly Baker’s pizza recipes, but foolishly didn’t realize how hard it is to write a recipe. Hat’s off to those cookbook writers!

Amelia Lord is a chef in southeastern Connecticut who loves rainy days. Because someone has to! Follow on IG: @ameliatilord

Carla McElroy, photographer, feels that if you are not covered in dog fur and slobber after a day of shooting it was not a good shoot.

Christina Musto is always looking for libation

inspiration. She loves writing about hand crafted wine, beer, cocktails, and the stories behind them.

Lisa Nichols is a well-rounded photographer

shooting for publications, events and businesses. Bread & Beast Food Photographer is the food photography branch of her business. Cats are her weakness.

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Katie Pinette is an artist and photographer always in search of new adventures and adventuresome people. She wants to meet you. She wants to meet your pet more.

Marilynn Turner lives with her black Labrador

Retriever Maggie. When Maggie isn’t napping or chasing her ball, she lets Marilynn help her in the garden and around the house. When Marilynn has been very, very, good, Maggie enjoys taking her to a local dog-friendly eatery to pass the time.

Callah Racine, fueled by true crime podcasts and

craft beer. Most known as the flower girl at Tiny Acre Farm. Also kind of known for bad dance moves.

Rita Rivera, Connecticut Food and Farm’s Graphic

Anna Sawin, wedding photographer, is no stranger to

photographing cake, but taking home a dozen cupcakes after her morning in the kitchen with Amelia Lord for this summer’s dried flower feature was especially sweet. I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE CAKE seems like the right title for a someday memoir. Follow on IG: @annasawinphoto.

Courtney Squire loves all things plants: she loves

to grow them, cook them, eat them, and even sing to them. Check her out at unboundgloryfarm.com.

Amy S. White is a teacher who loves to cook so she

is pretty content right now to be sitting on her porch swing, spying into her neighbors’ gardens and plotting her next meal. Check out more of her writing at amyswhite.com.

Designer, is about to celebrate her 16th wedding anniversary and loves to give her hubby an anniversary shout-out every summer issue. She posts pictures of her cute husband on Instagram @loveandpopart.

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO

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Profile for Connecticut Food and Farm

Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine, Summer 2019, Volume 17