Burns Night: Haggis

“Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free,
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run,
For brave Caledonia immortal must be,”
~Robert Burns, Caledonia

Last night we celebrated Burns Night , the 25th of January, the birthdate of the famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It is a night when Scots all over the world celebrate his life, poetry and all things Scottish by hosting a traditional Burns Supper – haggis, neeps, tatties, and a whisky toast!
This is a treat I look forward to every year. Living across the pond, in the US, haggis is not readily available, but I have been lucky to find Scottish Gourmet USA an online retailer of not only some of the best haggis in the US, but many other delicious Scottish products as well, like honey, cheese, smoked salmon, teas, etc. If you love Scottish food, I suggest you check them out!

We started the night off with homemade oat cakes, slices of Dubliner and chunks of Bergenost . I figured since I didn’t have any Scottish cheese lying about, I would seek close relatives, so we went with Irish and Norwegian (learn about the relationship between the Vikings and the Scots in regards to cheese here). We washed the first course down with some Thistly Cross Hard Scottish Cider.

Then it was time for the main course, haggis, neeps (mashed rutabaga) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Looks innocent enough, doesn’t it?

Now before you all start in with that “yuck” or “ick” word again, like when I talked about my love for black pudding , let me tell you that haggis is really nothing more than a wonderfully spiced sausage. The haggis by Scottish Gourmet USA, contains lamb, liver, oats and spices, nothing else…and YES, I have had the “real deal” in Scotland, and honestly it tastes very much the same. It has a wonderful creamy texture and the aroma is tantalizing. This is real, hardy, stick to your bones kind of food, for real, hardy people! This is traditional, ancestral food at its best! Burns makes this quite clear in his famous address and I must concur! :

“But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He will make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will crop
Like tops of thistle.
You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland want no watery ware,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But is you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!”
~Robert Burns, Address to a Haggis (standard English translation)

(Me with friends Bob and Suzanne, all enraptured by The Address)

Of course before eating, the haggis must be addressed (to see the whole address performed excellently, I suggest checking out this one performed by Andrew of Scottish Gourmet USA) and then toasted with whisky. This year we toasted with a 15 year Dalwhinnie. It was a good one.

As always it was a wonderful evening full of joking, sharing memories of trips to Scotland, etc, such a great yearly tradition. I suggest to all of you, especially if you are Scottish, love Scotland or just love ‘Ol Rabbie Burns, to join us next year in celebrating his life!

Want to know what to do with Haggis Leftovers? Try Balmoral Chicken.

Next UP: Sticky Toffee Pudding!

Black Pudding Stew and Bannocks

 

January is a big month for those of us with Scottish heritage. We start the month off with the celebration of Hogmany or Scottish New Year. This tradition comes from the intermixing between the Norse and the Scottish in Scotland. The 12 Days of Christmas, actually comes from the original 12 days of Yule , and Hogmany is the end of that celebratory time, as the new Gregorian year was rung in.

Then January 25th is Burn’s Night when Scots and those of Scottish ancestry the world over celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns by celebrating Burns Night and hosting a Burns Supper. I hosted my first proper Burns Supper in a long time last year and plan to do it again this year.

So in the meantime I would like to share with you this dish inspired by one of my favorite foods that I don’t get a chance to eat very often- black pudding, or blood pudding/sausage. I know a lot of you are probably gagging right now. But blood pudding is truly a sacred food. As the name implies it is made from the blood of a slaughtered animal. Usually sheep, sometimes pigs but it can also be made from cattle, duck and goat. This food really exemplifies nose to tail eating and as a farmer, I believe in using the entire animal, and that includes its blood. I have not had a chance to make it yet, but I do plan to in the future.

I must admit, the first time I had black pudding, I didn’t know what it was. I think that helped my taste buds truly enjoy it without thinking that I was supposed to think it was gross. I am so glad no one told me and just let me enjoy it.

The making of blood sausage is common the world over and can be found in nearly every culture. Generally it is made of the blood, some kind of fat and fillers depending on the culture – in France it is known as Boudin Noir, made with chestnut flour and cream, it was made on the Navajo reservation where I lived, prepared by the women with blue cornmeal, in Norway I ate Blodpølse as part of Christmas Eve traditional fare where it is served with other cured meats and Rømmegrøt. So although it might not be very popular in certain places and have a high “yuck” factor among many, it is part of the traditional diet of probably all of our ancestors and to be respected.

Last year when I ordered my Haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA for our Burns Supper, I also bought some of their black pudding or Marag Dubh. It can be eaten fried up for breakfast and served with eggs, or used in dishes, like this stew I made with beans and mushrooms, creating a wonderfully flavorful dish with a certain je ne sais quoi coming from the addition of the black pudding. It is just like anchovies in Italian Puttanesca sauce, if you don’t tell people it is in there, they will love it, licking their dish, while swearing how much they hate anchovies.

I served the stew with another traditional Scottish favorite, gluten free Oat Bannocks to sop up all the delicious sauce.

Open your mind and be adventurous this new year! Join us for a Burns Night celebration and try some black pudding!

Black Pudding Stew

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS of butter
2 slices of bacon
¼ large onion diced
1 clove garlic
½ cup re-constituted dried mushrooms (save the water)
½ lb black pudding, crumbled
¼ cup red wine
½ cup mushroom water
1 TBS Flowers of Scotland
¾ lb Christmas Limas, cooked
1 cooked potato diced

METHOD:

Be sure to cook your potato and beans ahead of time. Melt the butter in a hot skillet (preferably cast iron). Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook with the onion, garlic, mushrooms and black pudding. Once the bacon is browned and the onions soft, add the wine, mushroom water and cooked beans. Simmer on low for 25 minutes over low heat, covered. Take off lid and add the flowers of Scotland and cubed potatoes. Reduce liquid until the stew is nice and thick. Serve with bannocks. Serves 4.

Bannocks

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup GF oat flour
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup of yogurt/kefir/buttermilk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder

METHOD:

Mix first 5 ingredients together and allow to sit on the countertop for 8 hours, or overnight. Next day place it in a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing until the dough is nice and crumbly. Preheat oven to 400F.
On a floured surface press dough into an eight-inch circle about ¾ inch thick. Bake at 400F for 12- 15 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Every Day Chef Challenge – Pumpkin Pie Parfaits

Every year, I tell myself I should challenge myself and enter some recipe contests. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day, or more a week testing recipes in my kitchen. I see so many of my fellow food bloggers entering all kinds of cooking challenges, and it looks like so much fun! But I always find an excuse not to do it, usually it relates to not having time to test recipes in the kitchen. Last year, my friend Aggie, from Aggie’s Kitchen was part of the Every Day Chef Challenge created by Pacific Natural Foods. So this past weekend, I spent all day Sunday creating two recipes for the Every Day Chef Challenge!

The nice thing about Pacific, is that they have all natural, preservative free, some organic and some free range meat broths in their offerings. So it is a good brand for people who are moving over to healthier ways of eating, but still like the convenience of store bought stocks, broths and milk alternatives.

I entered two recipes, this dessert is based on the Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Parfaits I made a few weeks ago. They were such a hit at our dinner party, and I had so much fun making them, I wanted to try some other flavor combinations. Plus, everyone loves a dessert made from pumpkin over the holidays and I wanted to create a pumpkin pie alternative for people who might be facing a family or group dinner where guests might have food allergies. This dessert is delicious, dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar free. If you skip the graham cracker layer, you can also make it grain free. But this is perfectly delicious for those not suffering from allergies as well! My husband loved them, and he doesn’t even like pumpkin!

Recipe ingredients:
For Pumpkin Puree Layers:

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup

For Panna Cotta:

2 ½ cups Pacific Hazelnut Non-Dairy Beverage
¼ cup 100 % pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
½ cup of graham crackers, crushed (I used gluten-free graham crackers)

Cooking instructions:
Looks long and complicated, but once you get the layering down, that is really all there is to it! It will be totally worth it!
1) Make the pumpkin puree layer. In a medium bowl mix well the pumpkin, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Set aside.
2) Pour the hazelnut beverage into a small pan and heat on the lowest setting until small bubbles form on the edges of the pan.
3) In the meantime, in a small bowl pour the quarter cup of water and add the gelatin, whisking briskly until thoroughly combined. Set aside until the hazelnut beverage has started to bubble.
4) Then add maple syrup, vanilla extract and spices to the hazelnut beverage once it has started to bubble slightly.
5) Remove the hazelnut beverage mixture from the heat and add a quarter cup of it to the gelatin whisking briskly to incorporate, making sure there are no lumps.
6) Add gelatin mixture back to the pan with the rest of the hazelnut beverage mixture, whisk to combine and then set pan on the lowest heat setting, so that it doesn’t start to cool and gel.
7) Using ½ pint mason jars, place about 1/3 cup of the hazelnut beverage mixture on the bottom.
8) Put the mason jars in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes, until softly set.
9) Remove jars from freezer and let the jars come to room temperature. You want to make sure that you aren’t adding hot liquid to frozen glass, as this will cause the glass to break.
10) Then add about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin puree and smooth over top as best you can with the spoon or your clean fingers.
11) Then add a little crumble of the graham crackers.
12) You will repeat this process until you have the following: 3 layers of hazelnut milk mixture, 2 layers of pumpkin puree and 2 layers of graham crackers. Always let the hazelnut beverage layer gel before adding the pumpkin puree, etc.
13) Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before eating.
14) Serves 4.

Here is a link to the recipe! I feel really weird about self-promotion…but here I go. If you like it, please vote for it on The Every Day Chef  Challenge website! You don’t have to register to vote or anything, just check out the recipe, and vote!  AND, you can vote for it every day, up until November 14th.  I would very much like to win a kitchen aid mixer. Something that I have been dreaming about adding to my appliances for years. If you really love the recipe, please feel free to share the link on your social media outlets. Thanks so much for supporting this blog!

Summer Solstice 2011

Happy Summer Solstice to all my readers in the Northern Hemisphere!

 

The Summer Solstice marks the beginning of summer and is the longest day of the year! Here in Northern Vermont, it began getting dark around 9:30 PM. Sitting out on our side deck enjoying the mountain views and listening to all the sounds – barnyard animals, birds, frogs, insects made me think about past Solstices, and I recalled my time living in Norway when it was still bright as day at 2 AM! Very different but both great experiences!

 

I like to celebrate my Northern European roots on the Solstices and usually we toast with a local sparkling mead. Unfortunately we were not able to find the mead yesterday, so we settled on Sah’tea by Dogfish Head Ales. I was drawn to the graphics on the label – as it features my favorite animal, the Reindeer. Sah’tea is based on a 9th century Finnish recipe, Sahti. It is brewed with rye and juniper berries. They break with tradition by adding chai tea at the end of the boil. The flavor of the ale was intense with the chai spices tickling the palette. The color was a darker amber than we are used to seeing in an ale. It is a very unique brew, not something I would want every day, but it was definitely a good choice for a celebratory meal!

As for the nibbles, we decided on an antipasti of sorts. For proteins we had prosciutto, fresh marinated anchovies, duck rilettes and 2 types of cheese – a raw cow’s raclette and a sheep’s milk Lancashire. We also had assorted olives, peppadew peppers (which were delicious stuffed with rilletes), artichoke hearts homemade pickles – daikon radish and carrots. For dessert we had fresh, local, organic strawberries with fresh whipped cream!

 

We had a great evening, enjoying our al fresco meal and ending the night by “tucking in” all the animals. It is quiet moments like this that make everything feel right in the world. Hope you enjoyed yours too!

Friday Faves – Laura’s Lean Beef and DITALIA

Last Night’s Dinner – Simple Weeknight Fare

Sometimes during the holiday season when your mind is on other things you just need a nice quick meal. Something quick, easy to put together and nutritionally balanced. Something like burgers and fries. At our house that usually means patties made from organic, grassfed beef from our local farms, and oven roasted potatoes that we grew in our garden, served with organic ketchup and homemade pickles.

Since I am always writing about local, grassfed beef, I get a lot of emails, comments and questions from my readers asking me what they should do, if they don’t have a local farm nearby to buy meat? I always point them to Localharvest.org but sometimes even that doesn’t provide an easy answer. Previously I would tell them to look for buffalo meat instead, but it looks like some buffalo farms have gone the way of CAFO. So I have been really stumped.

(Photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef)

Several months ago I was contacted by Laura’s Lean Beef about doing a product tasting. In all my dealings with meat companies, I asked a lot of questions. It was clear from the get go that Laura’s Lean Beef doesn’t use antibiotics or growth hormones. Which are a good things, but I needed more reassurances – are the cattle grassfed? If not entirely, is the grain GMO grain? Things like that.

As I said in last week’s Friday Faves I am not going to sample products unless they fit my criteria and I feel sure about the possibility of recommending the product to my readers. Although I am committed 100% to local, grassfed, pasture raised animals, I know that many of my readers don’t have local farms available to them and so I wanted to see if Laura’s Lean Beef would be a viable option for those readers. A product I could recommend to readers faced with the above dilemma.

So I asked what Laura’s cows eat – and this is the answer I got: “Laura’s cattle are mostly fed grass. They have access at all times to plenty of space. Cattle are never really “indoors”, although they are given access to shelter as necessary from bad weather. Their primary diet is pasture grass. They are given some corn, corn silage, barley, soy products, legumes, etc. to supplement the diet. And of course they are never given growth hormones or antibiotics. Hope this helps.”

It helped, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be advocating beef that eat GMO products. So I asked about GMO and this is what I was told: “The corn and soy products are non-GMO. Below is some background information on how Laura’s fits in to the organic/lean/grass-fed beef picture:

“Organic Beef – Focusing on Production
Today, healthy eating is often associated with the word “organic.” However, certified organic beef is not necessarily lean and may not deliver all of the health benefits of beef that’s low in fat. An organic certification refers only to the philosophy and practices used in beef production. For beef to be certified organic, cattle must be handled and fed in certain specified ways including having access to pastures and being fed 100% organic feed. They must also be processed in certified organic plants. There are no stipulations, however, about fat content. In fact, organic beef is typically no more healthy or nutritious than conventionally produced beef.

Grass-Fed Beef – Return to the Range
Since the late 1990s, there has also been a growing interest in grass-fed beef. This has been driven by
many of the same principles which propelled the organic movement including the return to more natural food production. Grass-fed beef, however, takes things one step further. Livestock are raised only on pasture – not on grain or soy of any kind. As a result, animals produce more “good” fats (including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA) and fewer “bad” fats (omega-6s).
The drawback to grass-fed beef is its taste and toughness. It is very difficult to raise cattle solely on
pasture that yields the succulent and tender beef which consumers prefer.

Natural and Lean Beef – The Laura’s Difference
While Laura’s Lean Beef is neither certified organic nor exclusively grass-fed, it combines many of the
benefits of both while delivering less fat and great taste. Laura’s cattle are raised on sustainably managed farms, without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, and fed a diet of natural grasses and grains. This approach yields exceptionally lean beef, which is also full of flavor.”

Then it goes on to discuss that Laura’s Lean Beef is low in fat and saturated fat, which is not something I am too worried about, however the leanness of the beef does seem to prove that the cows are mostly grassfed, since grassfed cows are much leaner than their grain fed counterparts.

In conclusion: “Laura’s Lean Beef accomplishes this while providing conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of cattle. This combination – and its great taste – is what differentiates Laura’s Lean Beef from organic and grain-fed options.”

Click here to learn more about Laura’s journey from taking over the family farm, and transitioning to a new way of raising cattle.

So Laura’s started to sound like a good option for those without access to local, grassfed beef – the best part is, you can find Laura’s Lean Beef in many grocery stores across the country. There is even a store search on their website. So for those of you looking for a better quality meat, and have no access to farms or farmers markets, I suggest you try Laura’s! The meat is tender and tasty – and the ground beef is perfect for making mouthwatering burgers.

We used the free coupons they sent us to buy a package of ground beef, which is what they had available at my local grocery store. We used it to make burgers and accompanied the burger with oven roasted potatoes.

(photo courtesy of DITALIA)

Which brings me to my next fave for this week: GLOP. My friend, the owner of DITALIA, Vince sent me a free sample of GLOP when I placed my last order with him. He said “if you blog about it, great, if not, just enjoy it”.  It is really good to have friends like that! He also sent me a free sample of Sicilian Roasting and Grilling Salt.

I love both of these products. The GLOP goes great on pasta, or as a sauce for a white pizza. We enjoyed it on our potatoes with this dinner. I used to buy “Garlic Fries” from Trader Joe’s eons ago. The fries came with this packet of oil, herbs, spices and cheese. You poured it and mixed it on the hot fries, and it was GOOD. So I just chopped up some fresh garlic, added it to the GLOP and mixed it in my oven fries! Just as good as I remembered!

(photo courtesy of D’Italia)

As for the salt – I use it all the time – it is my official go to salt. Not just for meat, it is a great salt to use on veggies, potatoes, even on your morning eggs. There are some wonderful aromatic herbs and spices in there like dried rosemary and peperoncino. I definitely seasoned my Laura’s Lean Beef patties with this salt.

Since the holidays are coming up, I suggest popping on over to DITALIA’s website. They even have fantastic gift ideas for the holiday season already packaged up for you.  I know Vince travels to Italy every year to source out new gourmet products. So you can be sure that anything you get from DITALIA is of the highest quality!

Recipe: Summer Solstice Preserves

blueberry-jam-and-cake_sterilizing-cans-in-pot

I had a very special series of kitchen dates this past week. I refer to any event in the kitchen when I try something for the first time, as a “kitchen date”, since I have to really pay attention to what is going on the entire time, spend quality time with new ingredients and equipment, getting to know them – all the ins and outs, the quirks and the possible incompatibilities and then assess if this new item/process will become a part of my regular routine or not.

blueberries_01s

There are two major themes going on here – one is food preservation, and the other is gluten free baking. I have been talking about wanting to learn to preserve food, and can for quite some time now. I got the Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving several months ago, and have really been waiting for the right time to dive in and make something. Inspiration hit when the lovely folks at FromTheFarm.com sent me several pints of fresh blueberries. Obviously we ate quite a bit of them au naturale, but when I had quite a lot still after several days, I figured I needed to do something to preserve the rest…and then it hit me – MAKE PRESERVES.

blueberry-jam-and-cake_blueberries1

So I did. I opened the book to the index and chose a recipe that featured blueberries and other ingredients that I had already. Then I did something that could have been disastrous, I tweaked it – a lot! The whole time I was second guessing myself – here I was making preserves for the first time in my life, and not using pectin, and not using the same ingredients (or the same amounts) as the recipe stated! But with my typical luck, it turned out great! The color is amazing, and the taste, really really incredible – and it actually set. Plus instead of being too sugary sweet for my taste, like most jams and preserves, it has really retained its blueberry fruit flavor. I am so excited to now have 3 jars of spirited blueberry preserves to enjoy this year! One jar I have already used to make a delicious gluten free cake which I will post later this week.

blueberry-jam-and-cake_cannned

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April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway: D’Italia!!!

Our second April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway giveaway has us teamed up with D’Italia
D’Italia is an awesome online Italian Grocer! Need some gourmet salami? How about some truffles to shave over pasta, or real Italian espresso? You don’t need to look any further than D’Italia! If you need to send a nice gift to someone who loves gourmet or Italian foods, they also have beautiful and delicious gift baskets! This is a great company owned by Vince DiPiazza – yes you saw that correctly, we share the same last name, but still have not chatted to see if we are related or not! LOL!

antipasto-platter_grissini-salami

We received several samples from D’Italia so far, and all were OUTSTANDING. We first got a fantastic salami trio, and we were ecstatic that not only did it taste amazing, but there were no nitrates in them! Something that is near impossible to find these days, much to our chagrin. Roberto loves salami, and I am big fan, so this totally made our day. We enjoyed the salami with some fantastic Olive Grissini (also from D’Italia) – which are crunchy Italian breadsticks. Grissini is usually what you get instead of a bread basket at restaurants in Italy, and again, my Italian taste tester said these grissini were to perfection. They were light and crunchy with just a hint of olives. Great to serve with an antipasto and Limoncello spritzer like we did! :)

limoncello_in-martini-glass_2

The winners of the D’Italia giveaway will be receiving a basket filled with incredible goodies:
Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Sicilian Sea Salt w/Fresh Blood Orange Zest, Parmigiano Reggiano Spreadable Cheese, Sapori Italiani Mix (Capers, Olives, & Oregano), Sicilian Green Olives and Olive Oil. Now who wouldn’t want that??? Please remember to to make sure that you are an active member of The Foodie Blogroll, and that you have the widget displaying correctly. This giveaway is available to members in the Continental USA.

If you would like to learn more about our contests and giveaways, and how you can be eligible, please check out the Contests and Giveaways Page on FoodieBlogroll.com
If you are not yet a member of The Foodie Blogroll, you are certainly going to want to join us for your chance to win these awesome gifts!

Remember, we still have 2 more weeks of the Flirty Aprons and FromtheFarm.com giveaways through the end of March! Plus the Patric Chocolate giveaway in April as well! :)

FromTheFarm.com: Poached Pears and Honey Balsamic Strawberries

So here is another couple of recipes that I made using wonderful products from FromTheFarm.com who will be sponsoring a Foodie Blogroll Giveaway during March and April!

from-the-farm_poached-pears_in-the-basket1

I received some lovely pears from EW Brandt & Sons. The Brandt family has been a part of Washington state agriculture since 1907. Located just south of Yakima, WA they grow, pack and ship premium pears, apples and stone fruit. This farming family strives to deliver the most flavorful and unique products that can be grown in their region. Through the years, they’ve added acreage, new packing facilities, and a nursery program that allows them to better coordinate their own tree development to diversify into various tree fruit varieties. And these are some beautiful and tasty pears. I really have never seen such lovely ones before – not a blemish on them, super smooth outer skin. Just gorgeous- and the taste? Like a pear should be – crisp and delicious!

from-the-farm_poached-pears_poached

The first thing I did when I got a case of pears from EW Brandt & Sons was start asking around for wine poached pear recipes – something I had always wanted to make. So I went on Twitter and asked around. My good friend Peter, from Kalofagas had two recipes to share with me, (hereand here) and so I kind of took the method of how he did his and added my own twist to it.

from-the-farm_poached-pears_ready-to-eat

I had leftover mulling spices from the Gløgg I made for our Winter Solstice Cocktail Party and so I decided to use that in lieu of cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. I used Pumpkin Blossom Honey and Blackberry Honey Creme from Honey Ridge Farms to make the wine syrup.

from-the-farm_honeys1

Honey Ridge Farms is a really fantastic company. When I read the materials they sent me with the package I was really happy to read this statement: “We are a long time bee keeping family (5 generations) who believe that honey is nature’s best sweetener”. I would have to agree. I am a huge fan of honey, and maple syrup – if I could figure out how to bake with them, that is all I would ever use…sounds like another good project for me…Anyway their artisan honey is minimally processed, gently warmed and strained, but not filtered. This retains all the complex flavors this honey has to offer. The Pumpkin Blossom honey we got has a sweet and spicy robust flavor – and the color is beautiful.

from-the-farm_poached-pears_blackberry-honey-creme

I also received 3 Honey Cremes, and decided to use the Blackberry Creme in this recipe as it would compliment the berry notes in the Shiraz-Grenache wine I was using. Their honey cremes are blended with the finest fruits and spices and are never cooked – again retaining the natural goodness of the honey. It is delicious stuff and there is so much you could do with them – topping for ice cream, yogurt, on hot cereal, even spread on toast.

Anyway, I also decided to make a vanilla – maple cream to go with the pears – you can see the recipe after the cut.

from-the-farm_balsamic-strawberries

We got another interesting product from Honey Ridge Farms – Balsamic Honey Vinegar. I know, I wondered what it was too when I saw the bottle. So I got to reading labels and literature to figure out what it was. It is a balsamic type vinegar made entirely from 100% honey! This makes it sulfite free and really does have the flavor of balsamic vinegar. You can use it in place of grape balsamic in salads, marinades and sauces. Plus, Honey Ridge Farms donates a percentage of their profits on this product to fund research for maintaining bee colony health – which is very important.

Strawberries are in season here in Florida right now. I am not a huge fan of them, but I do enjoy them when they are soaked in balsamic vinegar. If you have never tried this, it may sound weird, but I promise you that the flavors work together like magic! The vinegar brings out the sweetness of the berries. So I chopped up some strawberries and added 1/3 cup of Honey Balsamic over the top. I also mixed in about a TBS of the Clover Honey Creme (also from Honey Ridge). I let that all sit in the fridge for about an hour or two – you could do it over night, if you can wait that long! It was really delicious over vanilla ice cream! I am also looking forward to having some over yogurt.

Please check out this post and The Foodie Blogroll’s Contests and Giveaways Page to see how you can be eligible to win one of our awesome giveaways we have going on.
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