10 things you probably didn’t know about making maple syrup (Recipe: Maple Sausage Patties)

We’ve been waiting for the sap to start running so we can continue to make maple syrup. And waiting. And waiting some more.

The ideal conditions for sap collection is above freezing temperatures during day, and below freezing at night. Unfortunately, it’s been consistently so dang cold that nothing has really happened. Then we had one glorious day with full buckets, and now it has been consistently above freezing – so no more sap.  Sheesh.

Since we can’t elaborate further on our personal progress, I’ll share a few particulars I’ve recently gleaned about making maple syrup and then add in a killer recipe for your Easter brunch to boot. Ready?
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How to plan a simple taco gathering: the make, the buy & the do-ahead

Brought to you by Archer Farms only at Target.

Spring has sprung. In a span of a week, our lawn turned green and the forest unfurled into a glimmering emerald panorama. All at once it seems highly appropriate to be eating outdoors, and besides, how can we stay away with the chorus of the bullfrogs and the quacking of the mallards calling us to come and salute spring?

I decided rather last minute to welcome friends over for a meal last weekend. They were in town on short notice and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see them – and meet their adorable new baby girl.

Everyone in the family pitched in to prepare for our first backyard gathering of the season. The boys power-washed the deck chairs and Danny primed the grill, while I prepped for a simple taco feast.

The day turned out to be gloriously warm; the children ran barefoot and our friends toured the garden and the chicken coop before we ate. And boy, did we eat.

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Roasting reminders (recipe: Roast Pork & Caramelized Balsamic Onions)

A beautiful roast can be the highlight of a dinner, but what about when it goes wrong? There’s just no ‘fixing’ an overcooked, dried out hunk-o-meat, so listen up to today’s reminders on roasting basics!

Preparing a roast is simple enough, there’s no finicky prep because it arrives from the butcher trussed, tied, and oven-ready. Still, much like my Perfect Roast Turkey or Chicken, there are certain steps to take to ensure a satisfactory result.

Roasting meat is an art akin to baking bread or shaping pasta. The final product should yield a evenly-browned, well-crusted exterior, and a moist and tender center.

The lovely cookbook, Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb offers some excellent tips for roasting than can be applied to many types of roasts. The author, Betty Rosbottom, suggests making a roast for Sunday dinner because it is a day when “…many cooks have a few free hours at home…and those leftovers are perfect for the rest of the week.”

I quite agree. Here are a few more tips from Sunday Roasts.

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How to Make Classic Tourtière (Québec Pork Pie Recipe)

On Christmas Eve, we almost always head to a beautiful candlelight service at our church and then drive home through the falling snow (on the years that it snows, obviously) to enjoy a late supper of Tourtière – Québec pork pie. This is a tradition fondly practiced throughout Québec, whether preceded by a religious service or not.

At our home, the tourtière is homemade, and we enjoy it throughout the holidays, not just on Christmas Eve. As I write, six wrapped pies sit in my deep freezer, waiting to be baked to golden perfection.

Essentially, tourtière is a meat pie; lightly spiced ground pork layered between flaky pastry, and served with a chunky green ketchup. It’s total comfort food, loved by all and needs nothing save a tossed salad or bowl of steamed peas to make up a complete meal. It can be enjoyed warm or cold, for brunch, lunch, or dinner – and makes a splendid midnight feast.

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10 Tips to Help You Conserve Some Coin

We all want to know how we can trim our monthly grocery bill and yet feed our families real, wholesome food. Anyone who has shopped for organic ingredients, knows that there is a price to pay for bringing home pesticide-free, all-natural foods. So what can be done?

Fortunately, Slow Food Rhode Island leader Amy McCoy of Poor Girl Gourmet has some solutions for us. In her brand new cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget, she takes us on a low-budget, high-quality food adventure, offering proven tips for eating wholesomely on the cheap, as well as providing reliable recipes to back the tips up. Her suggestions for frugal eating are one hundred percent applicable for every household and well worth reading about.

Here are ten money-saving tips that I gleaned from her cookbook, as well as a recipe that demonstrates how a less desirable (read: cheaper) cut of meat can be absolutely amazing. [Read more…]