North Country Kitchen, by Yvona Fast

Cranberries and oranges bring in holiday cheer

Will Santa leave an orange in your stocking this Christmas? This simple tradition seems strange in our modern, busy, techno-geek world. But once upon a time, for those living in cold northern climates, oranges were rare, delectable treats. In The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about ...

It’s cookie time

December is cookie time! Cookies are integral to holiday parties. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah Kwanzaa, cookies are part of the festivities. No one knows how or why cookies became associated with Christmas festivities. But by the year 1500, most European homes baked large ...

Autumn roots make quick, easy stir-fry suppers

The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone. November is waning. This year, our garden is deep under a layer of frost and snow. Before the cold came, we dug up our root crops and stored them in a box filled with sand, in a cool place in our garage that does not freeze. In our makeshift root ...

Shepherd’s pie makes good use of Thanksgiving leftovers

The big feast is over. And you’re left with tons of food: lots of turkey, bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables. The perfect Black Friday meal to make with these ingredients is Shepherd’s Pie. Leftover turkey, day-old mashed potatoes and gravy combine with veggies to make an easy, ...

Potatoes for your Thanksgiving table

In one form or another, potatoes are found on almost every Thanksgiving table. That may be because they’re a delightfully earthy, savory comfort food. They’re definitely an ideal side dish for the holiday turkey. You’ll need about a half-pound of potatoes per person; that’s about ...

What’s your favorite squash?

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it — and bright orange winter squash is both a holiday and a seasonal tradition. Sweet or savory, mashed or roasted, bright orange winter squash makes a delicious side dish for turkey. Squash and pumpkin (a type of squash) were probably served at the ...

Autumn braises combine greens, roots for easy skillet suppers

Autumn is time for roots. These subterranean delights are rough, dirty, gnarled and knotty on the outside, but hold a wealth of flavor, color, and rich nutrients on the inside. Potatoes and carrots come to mind when one says roots, but there is a myriad of others in hues varying from white to ...

What is left in the garden? Lots!

Fall is here, leaves are blowing off the trees, and Whiteface Mountain had a dusting of snow. Tender crops — tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini — have been harvested. Summer sweet corn is brown. But gardens and farmstands still have lots to offer. Fall is vibrant ...

Early fall tomato salads

With a longer season and hotter summer, the tomato harvest was truly stupendous this year. Farm fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are still abundant – but will be gone soon. They are the ingredients of awesome summer salads made without lettuce or other greens. Horiatiki, or ...

Basil: The flavor of Italy and other places

It’s September — and cold weather is on its way. We’ve already had a mild frost, and though the next few days promise to be warmer, autumn is on its way. Before the frost hit, I hurried to the garden to harvest the basil. We think of basil as an Italian herb – and without doubt ...

Weeknight cabbage skillet suppers

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax. Of cabbages — and kings --. And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings.” — (Lewis Carroll in “The Walrus and the ...

Summer is time for fresh

Driving around the North Country, I saw signs like this (at top left): And this (bottom left): We stopped at a roadside stand and bought tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and a head of cabbage. Our garden tomatoes are still green, but we have lots of lettuce and peas! Whether you grow it ...

Summer skillet suppers: Radishes, chicken and dill

Radishes are common fare in Europe and Asia, but many Americans avoid their spicy flavor. Most are only familiar with radishes as a garnish. Some add them to salads. But few have eaten them cooked. Cooking softens the crisp, crunchy texture of raw radishes, and mellows their flavor. When ...

Weeds are good food: Lamb’s quarters

Our garden is overgrown with lamb’s quarters (chenopodium album) – also called pigweed, goosefoot, fat hen or corn salad. In warmer climates, this non-woody branching plant can grow up to 5 feet – but we weed ours from the vegetable garden when they’re much smaller. Lamb’s quarters ...

Parsnips for dessert?

Long before potatoes made their journey from the New World to the old, parsnips were Europe’s ‘go-to’ veggie. At a time when the process for refining sugar from cane and beets was still unknown and honey was an expensive luxury, parsnips were often on the dessert menu. Sweet, starchy and ...

Welcome, dandelions and chives

Spring has been long in coming. I have heard the call of the loon, but most of our lakes are still ice covered. April 29 brought 6 inches of heavy, wet snow. But last week, our crocuses blossomed, and green shoots were poking up through brown leaves on the forest floor. In the garden, ...

Mushrooms: More than pizza

What grows in dark, damp caves, has no leaves, roots, flowers or seeds, and is in season all year long? Mushrooms. Although considered a vegetable by most, mushrooms are actually fungi. More than 3,000 varieties can be found growing wild throughout the world. Of these, morels — which ...

Beyond egg salad: Make way for spring

Spring has sprung. Rain is slowly melting the snow. Soon, flowers will bloom. Passover and Easter have come and gone. We’ve joined with friends and family to share food and fellowship, celebrate the miracles of Exodus and Resurrection, and the new life of spring. Then all the guests go ...

Spring into souffles

The sun shines warm and the sounds of melting snow are everywhere. Spring is not quite here, but the snow is melting fast, and the days are becoming noticeably longer. Longer days mean more light, which means that hens lay more eggs. In addition, they contain ample amounts of vitamins A, D, ...

Flu season is here

February is the peak of flu season, which began in October and lasts until May. This year, the flu has been especially severe and widespread. The flu has killed 85 adults and 20 children, and death tolls keep rising. Alabama declared a state of emergency due to flu. There are shortages of ...