Tuesday, June 29, 2010


We have a new screened porch attached to the house in the Berkshires. James calls it the "Tree house". I call it heaven. We dined al fresco (is it still al fresco when there's a roof over your head and screens on the walls?) with friends on Saturday and it was one of those gorgeous Berkshire nights where the air was cool and soft, ameliorating the heat of the day. Even better, no mosquitoes. Our friend Mary Ellen is a vegetarian so, since I'm always up to a culinary challenge, I made vegetables. My family have never really been heavy meat eaters, but neither are we that comfortable with veggie cookery, so I find myself learning new ways. Not just for Mary Ellen, but for ourselves as well. I'm enjoying it and, truth be told, I find it so much easier to digest my food when there's not a whole bunch of meat, poultry or fish on my plate. So, new challenges are fun....at least in this case. Getting me on a bicycle is quite another matter!

Dinner was roasted fennel with Parmesan and fennel fronds, Israeli couscous salad with sauteed English peas and asparagus served at room temperature, fresh yellow, orange, red and zebra striped heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced roasted and marinated eggplant, and chicken for the die hard protein eaters. Since I'm growing lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, oregano, thyme, mint, rosemary and chives, there was a snip of most of them in every dish. Fresh oregano is so different from the dried stuff that it might as well be on another planet. And the mint, which is in fact taking over the garden just as Natalie predicted, is so delicate that I munch on it like candy.

Not to be undone by the virtuous vegetables we had ice cream and sorbet for dessert with a drizzling (sizeable) of my Berkshire Preserves Mixed Berry sauce. That, good wine, great friends and the tree house made for a splendid night. The Mixed Berry sauce is nothing more than the Mixed Berry Jam thinned with a bit of juice or wine. Just a bit. Or let it sit at room temperature for a while and it will give up its juices and make it spoonable. Or, if you're lucky, you buy some from me that never quite "set" and is saucy all on its own.

Berkshire Preserves Blood Orange Marmalade has been on the Sunday brunch tables at The Old Mill for the last couple of weeks and Terry called today to reorder. You know how there are some phone messages you love to get? This was one of them. oldmillberkshires.com

Berkshire Preserves is having a tasting on July 10th from 10:30 to 12:30 at Bizalion's in Great Barrington. This time we'll be serving my intensely flavored, thick and yummy, extraordinary summertime berry preserves. bizalions.com. Please join me there.

On July 25th "Egremont On Parade" will strutt its stuff at French Park from 11 AM to 4 PM. Berkshire Preserves will have a table there promoting our wares. Several local restaurants serve from their tasting menus; there are games for the children, crafts for all ages, neighbors whom you may not have seen since last year. It's a wonderful time to gather and I'm looking forward to manning my booth this year.

And, last, but not least...Jim Gop, the in-house chef at Guido's has a recipe published in the current edition of Rural Intelligence http://www.ruralintelligence.com/index.php/food_section/food_articles_recipes/ that uses Berkshire Preserves Blood Orange Marmalade. The recipe is posted on the site and it is easy and delicious.


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