North Country Kitchen, by Yvona Fast

Using the whole beet

Most Americans know beets from alphabet books. Some have had canned or pickled beets. Only a few know how to prepare the bunches of beets plentiful at farmers’ markets and roadside stands this time of year. You can use the whole beet: roots, leaves, and stems. Roots are great roasted or ...

Muskmelons

Sweet, juicy, orange muskmelons are now at area farm stands. They’re a delicious treat this time of year! The large, round fruit grow on trailing vines and mature in late summer or early fall. Because they’re very frost-sensitive and need a long, hot growing season they won’t be around ...

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 ...

Eggplant cuisine: incredibly versatile

Summer brings grilled eggplant sandwiches, where it makes a tasty substitute for meat. But there are so many more ways to serve it! Eggplants are best from August to October, when they’re in season. This subtropical plant grows well in a hot, sunny weather, with moderately fertile soil and ...

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 ...

Winter is citrus season

Although our February days are getting longer, they’re still short and chilly. The ground is covered with a blanket of ice and snow. The skies gray and cloudy. It seems fresh produce is out of season. Yet winter is the time for fragrant, juicy, vibrant citrus — at their peak from November ...

Winter salads

Ah, summer. It is gone – but it will come again, bringing fresh greens and sun-ripened, garden fresh, juicy tomatoes ... I shun store-bought tomatoes that have traveled in refrigerated trucks across the continent. They don’t even come close in flavor to our summer garden gems. Fresh ...

Warm up with soup

Baby, it’s cold outside! When you’re chilled to the bone, there’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup. The thermometer shows negative digits. Winds howl and blow. Soup simmers on the stove, filling the house with comforting scents. It creates steam, adding humidity and warmth to dry ...

New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions in 2018? Was one of your New Year’s Resolutions to stay on a budget? Or to stay in shape? Or have healthier eating habits? Did you make a resolution to lose weight? According to data from the University of Scranton, about 45 percent of Americans make ...

New Year luck

The passing of one year and the birth of a new one is cause for revelry and reflection. The traditions that accompany this rite of passage depend on our culture, ethnicity, religion and economic stature. How we choose to celebrate and commemorate is very individual. Whether you participate ...