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Posts tagged ‘Local’

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:


1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle


1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”

Potato Leek Soup

Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.

That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.

My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.

Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.

Close Up Potato Leek Soup 2/1/13 WP

Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table”  and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]

What you will need:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving

What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:

melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft

Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons


let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple

Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
~Rebecca Rupp

Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @caramelize life

“making life a little sweeter through food, travel and community”



We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.


Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Blueberry~Beet Winter Salad

‘Florescent fuchsia’ would be a great name for this salad.  The sweet pink and purple juices of berries and beets brighten a winter meal and recall us to the tastes of summer.  And their florescent colors nearly scream healthy nutrients.

A little ode to the beauty of the beet… Often underestimated, the beet is many things—an early and hearty grower, edible from root to leaf, beautiful and versatile.  And if you believe that color content really does indicate vitamin content, then the beet is at the top of the list for nutritional value.

It takes winter for me to cultivate a desire for pickled items.  The palate matches the season in that sprightly pickled beets compliment winter main dishes, often heavy with starch or fats.  Beets from the summer garden were preserved for just such a salad at this time (canning recipe below).

2012 Garden Beats

2012 garden beets

The work involved with pickling beets is truly worth the effort.  The vegetable is good shredded raw on salads or roasted in the oven, however, the pickling process adds sugar and spice to the benefit of the beet.  I tried this recipe with oven roasted beets and it was good, but not nearly what it can be when the veggie is pickled.

Preserved, the beets in this pickling recipe are seasoned to perfection, through and through.  A jar can be pulled for topping salads, as a vegetable side for just about any meat dish, or eaten as a coveted appetizer.


baby beets ~ perfect for salad greens

Bountiful blueberries

Rachelle and family gathered and froze bountiful blueberries 2012

2012 garden spinach

2012 garden spinach

~ Blueberry-Beet Winter Salad ~

1 large head spinach, washed and torn

1 pint jar pickled beets, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups blueberries

3/4 cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup feta cheese (I use Sunny Pine Farm chèvre feta)

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 recipe Sherry Vinaigrette (optional, recipe below)

~NOTE:  If you are using pickled beets, I find a dressing unnecessary to this salad; alternatively, if you are roasting the beets, the sherry vinaigrette or another similar dressing is required.

~The presentation of this salad is best plated individually, so begin with beds of spinach.

~Combine chopped beets and blueberries in a bowl and set aside; roast walnuts and chop.

~Assemble salads by topping each spinach bed with approximately 1/2 cup beet and blueberry mixture; sprinkle with nuts and cheese; dress with vinaigrette or not as desired and serve.

Yield: about 6 servings

~ Sweet & Spicy Pickled Beets ~

10-12 medium sized beets, or 4 pounds

3 cups onions, sliced long and thin

3 sticks cinnamon, broken

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)

1 Tablespoon allspice, whole

1 teaspoon cloves, whole

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar

3 cups water

4 cayenne peppers, whole and preferably fresh

4 cloves garlic

~Wash beets and trim stems and roots to about 2 inches (this will allow easy skin removal); boil in water until tender, remove and drain; when cool enough to handle, remove peel and trim ends if necessary.

~Combine remaining ingredients, besides peppers and garlic, in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

~Add beets and simmer until heated throughout; remove cinnamon sticks.

~Using sanitary, hot pint jars, add one garlic clove and one cayenne pepper to each; pack beets into jars and ladle hot liquid over beets, leaving 1/4 inch headspace; remove air bubbles and adjust two-piece caps; process in boiling water canner for 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 pints

Sherry Vinaigrette

If canning or pickling doesn’t suit your fancy, simply roast the beets on 400 degrees for about 25 minutes and make up a sweet vinaigrette.  I love working with sherry as it seems to pick up flavor complexities in a wide variety of foods.  You may easily substitute other vinegars.

1 shallot, finely minced

1-2 cloves garlic to taste, finely minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup sherry vinegar



~ Carefully sauté shallots in 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil until transparent and just beginning to brown; remove from heat and cool.

~Combine shallots, garlic, vinegar and mustard with whisk or food processor; emulsion is the key to a good vinaigrette, so proceed slowly with olive oil, pouring in a steady, small stream while mixing until smooth (it is far easier to use a food processor for this step); add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

The Beet as Food Coloring

One of the niftiest uses for beets is as a natural food coloring.  For those attempting to avoid synthetic food coloring (often containing unnatural or toxic chemicals),  the beet is the ticket.  Simply slice the root into chunks, cover with water, and simmer down the liquid into a thick, fuchsia sauce.

This natural food coloring is virtually tasteless and is great added to frostings or desert sauces on special occasions.  My daughter knows it well as her signature birthday cake coloring.

Love from our kitchen to yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

2012 garden beets

2012 garden beets

Caramelize Life Cooking Class @ Sun Mountain Lodge

It was quite a joy teaching garden to table, Methow based cooking to visitors from around the country this month.

We were invited by Methow Arts Alliance to beautiful Sun Mountain Lodge where I taught original recipes and methods while Rachelle took fabulous photos and video while we prepped.  Our attendants asked for full recipes and photos published on our site, so this article includes methods for all that we made in class.

Luckily for us at the time, the garden was at it’s height, so most all of the ingredients we used were pulled straight from the backyard.  Heirloom tomatoes, hericot vert, fresh herbs, a chèvre selection from Sunny Pine Farm and my husband’s Columbia River King Smoked Salmon received praise all around for a delightful light-fare meal we all enjoyed.

About Sun Mountain Lodge

Honored for many years with it’s five star, four diamond status, Sun Mountain draws visitors to the Methow from around the globe.  Exquisite natural beauty as well as world class skiing and trail sports make the mountain a prime destination.  The best in fine dining is guaranteed at Sun Mountain, but what we particularly appreciate is the chef’s use of local, organic ingredients in their culinary creations.  Check out their menu for great inspiration.

~ Introduction to Gourmet, Garden to Table Methow Cooking ~

A Collaboration of Caramelize Life, Methow Arts and Sun Mountain Lodge

We are Caramelize Life: Making Life Sweeter through Cooking, Travel and Community

We are Methow Valley mothers, cooks, gardeners, photographers and writers publishing original recipes and bringing the magic of Methow foods to readers and students around the world.

We write realtime narratives, methodologies and recipes weekly in articles showcasing locally grown foods, heritage and community ~ each of them organic and self-sustaining in philosophy and heart.  In everything we write, photograph, teach and create, we’re seeking to make life a little sweeter.


~Methow Harvest Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Lemon-Pepper-Almond Pesto Dressing and Handcrafted Twisp River Feta

~Crostini with Columbia River King Smoked Salmon, Local Goat Cheese & Apricot-Date Chutney


~ Tomato & Baby Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Pepper-Almond Pesto & Feta Cheese ~

3 lb.s Tomatoes, seeded and diced

2-3 lb.s Hericot-Vert, flash boiled and diced

1 head Romaine or other hearty green

1 cup Crumbed Feta Cheese

Lemon-Pepper-Almond Pesto Dressing (see below)

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Heirlooms, basil and beans for the salad

~ Lemon-Pepper-Almond Pesto Dressing ~

1 Recipe Pesto Sauce

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 Tablespoons E.V. Olive Oil

Fresh Basil Leaves

Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

~Chiffonade basil (stack 7-8 leaves, roll them in a tube and fine slice, 1/4- inch, at a diagonal) and set aside.

~Juice lemon into a jar or small bowl and add olive oil, pesto, salt and pepper.

~ Combine with basil and serve.

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Pesto Sauce

2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves & Flowers

3+ Cloves Garlic

1/3 cup Roasted Nuts (we recommend almonds, walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds)

1/2 cup Parmasean Cheese, grated

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

~Blend nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely ground, but not sticking.

~Add cheese, salt, pepper and basil and blend until smooth.

~With machine running, slowly pour olive oil through feed tube to emulsify.

~Serve on salads and pastas, in marinaras, soups, dressings or  sandwich spreads.

Yield: about 6 servings

~ Smoked Salmon Crostini with Goat Cheese & Apricot-Date Chutney ~

1 Baguette (we used the Mazama Store‘s superb french style)

2 Tablespoons each, melted Butter & Extra Virgin Olive Oil, combined

Soft Goat Cheese, about 8 oz.

6-8 oz. Smoked Salmon

1/2 pint Apricot Date Chutney

Fresh Italian Parsley

~Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces and place on a sheet pan; drizzle olive oil and butter mixture over bread and toast in the oven at 350 F for about 7 minutes; remove from heat and set aside to cool.

~Spoon about 1 teaspoon spreadable goat cheese on each piece of bread.

~Top each crostini with 1/2 teaspoon smoked salmon.

~Garnish with a 1/4 teaspoon chutney and a sprig of parsley or serve with chutney on side.

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Georgina’s preserves, and the nectar rules. See our index of recipes on our page, Canned and Preserved 2012

~ Apricot-Date Chutney ~

6 1/2 cups Fresh, Ripe Apricots

2 1/2 cups pitted Dates

2 1/2 cups Golden Raisins

1 Tablespoon Salt

2 teaspoons ground Ginger

1 teaspoon ground Coriander

2 cups White Wine Vinegar

2 cups Water

Pint or Half-Pint Canning Jars

New Lids, Bands

~Wash, pit and chop apricots in 1/2 inch pieces.

~Combine apricots and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer and allow mixture to thicken, stirring frequently.

~Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch headspace; clean rims, adjust hot lids and bands.

~Process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil in a boiling-water canner.

~Remove from canner and tighten bands; let sit for 12+ hours to seal.

~Shelve your chutney for three weeks at a minimum, 6 ideally.

Yield: 12 half-pints or six pints

~ Columbia River King Salmon ~ Smoked & Preserved ~ 

Recipe coming soon on

Love from our kitchen to yours, Georgina @ Caramelize Life


Sweet Ambrosia: Canning Apricot Nectar

One of the simplest and most rewarding canning recipes, apricot nectar is true ambrosia.  Ambrosia refers to the mythical “food of the gods,” a heavenly honey-sweet nectar akin to “mana.”  Apricot nectar fits the bill with it’s nearly divine status in the pantry and it’s massive nutrient content for the body.

To our family’s great satisfaction, the garden is lush at summer’s end and brimful of harvestable fruits and vegetables.  At this time in the season, writing goes by the wayside while I preserve our bounty for winter.  Many of us reflect at this time that if production recipes aren’t happening every day, we’re getting behind.  So, beginning with this canning recipe, I will share as much as possible the delectable preserve recipes that are going up now from garden to pantry.

I learned to make this recipe growing up (and steal it from the cellar) from my dear friend’s mother, Beautiful-Betts.  It never fails to please and includes the wonderful necessity of a hand crank food mill.

Betsy was one of those rare super-moms of the ’70s.  Raising four children miles from any town in the north woods of Okanogan County, she prided herself on completely home-grown, self sufficient living ~ from dispensing with running water and electricity to canning meats raised on their farm.  Meals at Betsy’s house might consist of giant buckwheat pancakes with straight molasses for breakfast or a gooseberry pie for a treat.  Everything eaten was grown in the yard or gathered from a friend.

I asked her once why she did it.  Her response: “to prove to myself that I could.”   She’s the mountain mama I look up to as I preserve apricots each year.

Fresh picked apricots

Now a professional chef and baking professor at Edmonds College, Betsy Buford has been a pastry chef at fine Seattle restaurants including Falling Waters, Ray’s Boathouse, and Campagne as well as at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop.  Betsy taught me about the spirituality of food as a kid.  Grow it, harvest it, can it or cook it, and feed it to your family without apologies but with loving appreciation ~ that’s the joy of cooking.  And, cooking without devices to cook for you is not only an accomplishment in self-sufficiency, it is immensely satisfying for the soul.  This recipe captures all of those spiritual aspects of cooking.

Apricots are bountiful mid- to end of summer.  Many trees in the Methow Valley’s semi-arid, high mountain climate are ancient and laden with fruit.  Huge, knarly branches bend under the weight of apricots, dripping golden, pink and crimson orange hues in a variety of flavors.  Some cots can be subtle in taste yet substantial in size, while others are tiny (1 ½ in. diameter) but pack so much flavor that they are more than worth the effort of picking and processing.  I have two such trees in our yard, but I’ve found that any cots will work well for nectar.  If you do not have a tree immediately near, try your farmer’s market for fresh organic cots.  One or our favorite local growers for purchase is Smallwood Farms.

Nectar complete: not to be opened until the snow falls.

One beauty of this recipe is that it is entirely malleable to your taste; no sugar or sweetener is needed, but the recipe is very responsive to added acidity or sugar depending on your cot.  I choose to cook the fruit down, but Betsy also made a raw pack version of the nectar that is excellent.  The water bath boil time of 25 minutes makes either a hot or raw pack possible.

But the most satisfying part of this recipe?  Taking a swig in winter is like a mouthful of fresh picked apricots in the heat of summer.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  A word or two about hand-crank food mills.  There are a couple varieties on the market and many work well, however, my favorite for efficiency is the old fashioned cone shaped food mill.

~ Apricot Nectar ~

Fresh apricots​​​

​​​Hand-crank food mill


6-7 quart size mason jars

New sealing lids, bands

Sugar or honey, to taste

Fresh lemon juice, to taste

~ Your apricots need not be perfect.  After rinsing them, pit and cut any brown bits or buggy parts inside the cot.  Don’t worry about marks on the skin as they will be pressed and discarded.  In this way, the recipe maximizes as much of the fruit as possible, capturing all pulp and flavor for maximum nutrition.

~ Fill your largest sauce pot to the brim with apricots and add enough water (at least 1/3 of the pot) to account for moisture loss and to prevent sticking; Cook on medium heat until all fruit is softened.

~ Place your food mill over a large bowl and have a couple other bowls on hand.  Fill the mill with cooked apricots, cranking both clockwise and counter clockwise and repeat until all juice is extracted and you’ve pressed down the pulp as much as possible.  Return all to the sauce pot.

~ Add honey or sugar and lemon juice to taste.  Traditionally I have not added water, but prefer the pure thick nectar, however most people do prefer it watered down somewhat.  Experiment to your liking, then bring the nectar to a simmer and can your nectar.  (The less the fruit is cooked, the more nutrients are retained.)

~ Preserving Nectar ~

~ While you are processing the apricots, start your boiling water canner on high and boil quart jars to sanitize for 10 minutes.

~ Pour boiling water over new lids and bands and let sit.

~ Remove jars from hot water bath.  Fill each jar with nectar to within ½ in head space.  In case of splatter, wipe jar rims clean with a wet, hot towel and lid them, screwing bands to finger tip tightness.

~ Process in hot water bath at a full boil for 25 minutes.  Remove from water and tighten bands.  Let stand untouched for 12+ hours to set.

~ Put up in the pantry for yumminess all year long.

Love from our pantry to yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Pantry goodness: (top left to bottom right) Tomatillo-Jalepeno Salsa, Honey, Plum Jam, Apricot Nectar, Apricot-Date Chutney, Apple Butter.

Columbia River Sockeye Off the Hook

The Sockeye Salmon numbers in the Methow Valley region are off the hook!  Or, to be exact, they’re on our hooks.

Currently, there are over 20,000 Sockeye being observed and recorded over the Columbias Well’s Damm ~ per day.  Wells is a check-point for salmon between headwaters and the ocean.  These fish are counted by live people ~  24 hours a day.

Largely a wild run fishery,  the vast number of salmon are making national news and statistical records.  This high mountain river run is one of the last of it’s kind in the entire country for wild river fish.

That’s according to our resident expert, my husband Wes, who is a Fisheries Biologist here in the Methow Valley for the Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey).  The sockeye percentage alone has increased in number to over 350% over the last ten years.  That is fantastic news in terms of river health, and reflects positively on Dam management of fish populations.

Fresh garden herbs and butter for salmon garnish

Sockeye salmon and other wild fish run up the Columbia River to the the Okanogan River, then travel up to Lake Osoyus, B.C., to the Columbia’s origination.  Wes mentioned after a successful day of fishing this week that the Okanogan River is truly impressive, even on an international level.  It provides a major salmon resource for recreational anglers and Tribal sources.

Sockeye, Summer Chinook, and Stealhead are among the finest fish we gather locally for creating fresh, gourmet cuisine.  But among those, fresh Sockeye are really the cream of the crop ~ in our humble opinion.

Herb~butter, sockeye and ground Brittany Grey salt

The Columbia River real time data access gives up to date statistics on fish to catch:

After a good catch the last few days, we have 8 large Sockeye fillets in the freezer and tasted one off the grill last night.  We grilled Sockeye fillets and tossed fresh baby green beans with cherry tomatoes from the garden.

~ Grilled Sockeye with Herb Butter ~

1 large sockeye salmon fillet

bunches of fresh herbs ~ Dill, oregano, chives, basil, terragon (you may also substitute your preferred combo of fresh herbs ~ rosemary, mint, sage, cilantro are good options).

3 Tablespoons butter

~Coat the fillet in extra virgin olive oil, top and bottom; sprinkle with fresh ground sea salt and pepper.

~Place fish on preheated grill, skin up, and seer for about 2 minutes; turn the fish skin down and seer for 5-7 minutes more.

~Remove from grill and top with herb-butter.

~ Green Bean & Cherry Tomato Salad with Feta & Herb~Lemon Vinaigrette ~

1 lb. fresh green beans

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup crumbled feta

~Boil 1 pound of green beans for 5 mintues then rinse in cool water; cut into 1 inch lengths.

~Toss with 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes and the lemon dressing and top with feta.

Herb~Lemon Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cloves minced garlic

chopped fresh basil, about 1/2 cup

salt & pepper to taste

Any~Time~Any~Meal Winners: from Rhubarb Crisp to the Philly Cheese Steak

Recently Rachelle and I, partners at Caramelize Life, were happily bantering about favorite foods and recipes we adore.  We landed on a few win-all, any-time, all-purpose recipes.

I think we’re all familiar ~ those recipes that we’ll secretly devour on any occasion in a darkish corner of the kitchen.  It’s just as good first thing in the morning as late at night, whenever hunger strikes.

There is most commonly no guilt associated with these snackings, because the recipes are so delectable (and arguably healthy in our minds) that they should be enjoyed for any meal.  No excuses.

Four quick and easy Any-Meal-Any-Time Recipes for our Beloved Readers

These recipes may be made garden to table any time of year with a few tricks, but each one also uses produce and ingredients currently in season.  I’d like to highlight the Emmer Farro recipe and our friends at the Methow Valley’s own Bluebird Grain Farms because it is now prime salad season.  This recipe and those for Rhubarb Sauce and Philly Cheesesteak were also published in recent months.

But don’t miss the new recipe of Rhubarb Crisp at the end ~ it’s a universal winner!


Philly Cheese Steak Meets Methow Mama ~

The first weekend I made this recipe, I’ll admit, I ate this cheesesteak for three different meals.  And yes, one of them was breakfast.


Emmer Farro Salad with Fruit, Feta & Pecans ~ High-Protein, Hearty…. Delectable 

Emmer Farro is a unique, ancient grain cultivated in the Methow Valley. It is highly sought after in fine dining establishments in larger cities. And here is why: emmer has a full-bodied flavor, a texture and shape that holds, and contains up to 22% protein.

Photo credit: John Lok of the Seattle Times


Rhubarb Sauce & Yogurt ~

Rhubarb and yogurt is a family staple.  Check out this easy recipe for healthy any-time snacking.


New Recipe

~ Rhubarb Crisp ~

Fruit Mixture ~

5 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, diced in 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cups sugar

4 Tablespoons flour

Note: if rhubarb is frozen, thaw but do not drain.

Crisp Topping ~

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cinamon

1/4 cup cold butter, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1~ Combine rhubarb, sugar and flour in a bowl and set aside.  Let stand for at least 1/2 hour, stirring periodically.

2~ Meanwhile, prepare topping by combining all dry ingredients, then cut in butter.

3~ Place fruit in greased 2 quart square baking dish or equivalent and sprinkle topping over fruit.

4~ Bake at 375F for about 1/2 hour or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.

Yield: 10-12 servings (or4-5, depending)

Love from our kitchen to yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Garden Love: Kids & Carrot Soup

Kids love to garden ~ as long as we elders help that love along:)

How can we as parents hook kids on growing their own food for life?

The main ingredient for kids of any age ~ FUN!

This spring, my daughter was given a single bean to plant inside.  She named the beloved bean–ready for this–“Beanie,” much to our great shock.  She labeled Beanie, watered her and put her in a sunny window.  She invested much in Beanie, singing to her, fanning her, telling her stories.  Now Beanie is about 5 inches tall and needed a home, so a bean teepee was built for Beanie (methods below).  Now, one of her favorite places to be is camped out, making “salad” in the bean teepee.

It’s in this–determining what is really fun for your child–that hooks them on gardening.  Here are some other ideas.

Grow What They Eat

The first vegetable my daughter wanted to eat out of the garden was a sweet pea.  Imagine that.  A sweet pea wanting to eat something as sweet as she!

She proclaimed “these pea pods are just little sacks of sugar!”

She told all her friends in case they hadn’t discovered that definition:)

The first veggie my son loved was the carrot.  We looked up different carrot varieties and he got attached to the type called “short and sweet.”  From 4 years old to the present, he is in charge of the carrot patch:)

Carrots! Easy to grow with children, wonderfully sweet to eat fresh.

Read for Inspiration

Books about families gardening self sufficiently are wonderful introductions as well.  My all time favorite is Oxcart Man.  It teaches about the cycle of the seasons and all the family does to make their own food all year.  Here is how the beautiful tale begins:

Ox-Cart Man, a beautiful description of self-sufficient living in poetry.

“In October he backed his ox into his cart

and he and his family filled it up

with everything they made or grew all year long

that was left over.”

Another great one for kids is Carrot Soup.  Not only is it a hilarious, creative story of a carrot obsessed bunny and his collective of gardener friends, it has a good carrot soup recipe for you and kids to try at the end.

A bean teepee for Beanie:)

Make a Space that Kids Love

If you set aside a corner or two for your little ones, they will love taking ownership of it.  Even a 1 x 3 ” plot is enough for a child to grow food they’ll eat through the summer.

Give them a choice of seeds, and help them decide by thinking about what they like to eat.  Consider an edible flower to enhance the experience ~ my kids are fascinated by any pretty flower to safely consume.

Consider a bean pole teepee.  It sets apart a space that can be just for kids.  They will learn to be careful of planted beds and delicate seedlings, and know that they have a sanctuary where they can also creatively play.  After all, encouraging kids to love the garden through work is not going to be the most effective ~ that comes later!

Include play space in the garden and your kids will join you:)

A bean teepee can be anything you like, but we like to use skinny lodgepole downed in the forest.  Dried river wood offers some wonderful shapes.  The teepee itself can be a work of art in your garden.

One thing I did this year that I will now do every year is to save and dry our sunflower stalks for the following year.  Those long fibrous stocks dry to rock solid by spring.  I leaned them against the garden fence so they wouldn’t rot and let them stand all winter.  In spring they were hard as can be and I cut them to make a criss-cross trellis around the teepee.  (Beans need stalks smaller than lodgepole to climb:)

We planted three varieties of beans and my daughter took up immediate residence in the teepee.  She even asked to sleep there.

Pick the Fruits of Your Labor ~ Together

No matter what, involve your kids in the harvest!  The satisfaction of eating off the vine or picking the fruits of your labor is tough to beat.

Encourage the chillins to set up a little veggie stand if your family has extra, and show them the value of home grown food–for belly and pocketbook.  Rachelle has a great post about involving kids in local farmer’s markets, FIND YOUR MARKET.

I’ve found that the single most powerful way to encourage your kids to love to garden is simple: eat what you love, and grow what you eat!

Carrot Soup

At many farmer’s markets across the country you will find carrots ~ possibly the most kid friendly veggie.

Known to granola crunching vegetarians everywhere, The Moosewood Cookbook (1977 edition by Molly Katzen) is a fabulous addition to any chef’s library.  The carrot soup here is a modification from the Moosewood.

2 lbs peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 c stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional)
4 T butter
1 c chopped onion

Moosewood Cookbook

2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds)

1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt

Season with:
~ 2 pinches of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon and 1 t grated ginger.

1.  Place carrots, stock, salt and potato in a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.

2.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo you choose.

3.  Puree everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4.  Whisk in cream or yogurt just before serving.

5.  Garnish with toasted seeds, nuts or toasted croutons and serve.

Happy Gardening from Georgina @ Caramelize Life

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The Barb is On

Rhubarb: how we love thee.  You are full of the zing of spring, yet you are humble and hearty.

And how underestimated you have been in years past!

From early childhood, my mother always made rhubarb sauce (recipe herein), pie, crisps, cobblers and froze whatever was left over for winter delights.

Farmer’s Markets right now have an abundance of Rhubarb, and likely your neighbor does too.  Our last article, Find Your Market has links to markets across the country and rhubarb is one of the most common items sold at this time.

Harvesting rhubarb is easy for kids ~ and produces tasty treats they love

I’ve often heard folks describe rhubarb as a weed or make comments like, ‘what would I do with it?’ To which I respond, ‘I’d be happy to take that off your hands so it’s not in your way.’ I’ll never say no to free barb.

Rhubarb sauce over yogurt was a staple growing up as it is in our home now. We regularly harvest, beginning now, and make sauces for breakfast dishes, lunches and snacks. If the seed stalk is kept cut back, and you trim your barb as it ripens, you can keep a plant producing all summer long.

Bring on the barb!

Kid Friendly Harvest & Recipe

This week, my son Phoenix worked the entire process, garden to table.

He harvested the rhubarb, washed it, cut it and cooked the sauce, all himself.  (Well, I did the taste testing for sugar ratio, otherwise it would have come out heavy on the sweets:).

This is a wonderful recipe to use as a tool to get your kids into gardening and cooking.  The resulting food is something kids love ~ a sweet and tangy sauce that goes well over yogurt, ice cream or, my favorite, breakfast waffles and pancakes.

Rhubarb Sauce

Fresh Rhubarb



~ Chop washed rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and fill a quart sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom with at least 2 inches.

~ Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once the fruit starts to break down, reduce heat to medium-low.

~ Add sugar and continue stirring; once the sauce is simmering again, turn to low.  You may add your sugar to taste, but for a quart pot full of fruit, I generally use about 5 cups sugar.

~ Eat fresh on yogurt, waffles, over ice cream, or jar in Masons and freeze.

Guest Food Blogger Recipe:

Check out a delicious way to use fresh rhubarb in a fruit crisp ~ fellow foodie, Mary Miller shared this great recipe for Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.  We recommend giving it a try:)

Mary shares good food on her blog, A Passionate Plate.  

NOTES on Rhubarb

Breakfast Treat: waffles, yogurt and sweet rhubarb sauce.

~For planting, try finding an existing plant to cut from.  The root of the barb is like one solid mass.  You can cut right through it to divide the plant.  Don’t worry about damage–this root is hard to kill.  It will grow almost anywhere.

~Water Rhubarb liberally.  I made the mistake years ago of thinking the wild plant on the side of the house didn’t need tending.  Not so–the barb takes a lot of water in spring and through the summer if you want to harvest repeatedly.

~ Save it for later!  If you don’t want to make sauce out of all your barb, wash it, cut it in one inch chunks and bag in the freezer.  It is just as good taken out months later for pies, sauce, chutney or crisps.

~ In the Methow Valley, purchasing rhubarb plants is possible at the Local 98856.  They also have great advice on the plant and others.

Love from Our Kitchen to Yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life


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