The Last Tale: Mother Hen from Birth

Memories of Getting Away With Fowl Play

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When I was 6 years old, my mother washed my mouth out with a bar of Dove soap and sat me on the bathroom sink, soap mustache and all, to think about what I’d done.

For the third time that week I had smuggled one of our baby chicks, bullied by the others, into my bedroom for extra attention. An hour later, the poop stains on the rug sold me out, and there I was looking up at my mother and willing myself to be sorry.

“Have you learned your lesson?” she asked sternly, hands on hips. I sighed and looked at the ground. “I will never ever do it again,” I said, cracking a smile. Then I blew a Dove soap bubble into the air and, before the both of us, it popped.

Twelve years later, freshman year of college, I sat in my Honda Civic directly outside my dorm and called my floor mate inside. “Pat, I need to sneak in something onto the seventh floor and could use your smuggling experience.”

Pat, being something of a party animal, was very good at sneaking prohibited items right past the nose of the front desk staff and up into the dorms.

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The Indoor Herb Garden

(for the Houseplant Impaired)

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Story and photo by Brian Cruey, Berkshire Botanical Garden

I don’t know what is wrong with me. In the summer, my gardens are lush, green and, for the most part, healthy. It’s not effortless—I definitely put a lot of time and energy into the maintenance and care of my plants—but without being immodest I would say that I’m a decent gardener.

However, when I try to translate those skills into growing anything indoors, I’m less of a decent gardener and more of a crazed serial killer. So many people try to give me houseplants or ask me to overwinter something for them and I have to politely decline.

“You don’t understand,” I tell them. “If you ever want to see this plant alive again, run away as fast as you can.”

Of course, I know this is foolish. There is no such thing as a “green thumb” or cursed gardeners. Gardening is a science and plants are living things that have certain environmental needs and food requirements to survive. When it comes down to it, I’m just doing something wrong. So, this year I am going to try again.

What I really want are fresh herbs. Now that the weather is cold, my oven is on all the time and, when it comes to cooking, there is no substitute for homegrown herbs.

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Heirloom Family Favorite: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Manicotti

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Courtesy of Chef Carol Murko
Heirloom Meals

When I think of the Christmas season there is one recipe that comes to mind: manicotti!

This tradition has been handed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother to me. This is the essence of heirloom meals: recipes passed down through the generations—always savoring yesterday’s traditions today. This was my Nana’s signature dish, and we always had it as the pasta course of our Christmas dinner.

The funny thing about manicotti is its pronunciation. For those who speak phonetically, it is man-uh-COTT-ee. When I was little I pronounced it “mon-uh-GUT” (pronounced in American Italian) like my family did. Most of my friends had a quizzical look on their faces. So I have gotten into the habit of saying it twice—like Jimmy Two-Times from Goodfellas. mon-uh-GUT (MANICOTTI)—get it?

I am sure most of you have had manicotti but may be thinking large tubular noodle stuffed with ricotta (pronounced Italian-style: rick-COTE-uh). Well, my family recipe will transform your idea of manicotti forever! This is our recipe for heavenly light crepes: Fill them with luscious ricotta filling and finish with some sauce—the best!

HeirloomMeals.com

Carole Murko is a home cook, writer and host of “Radio Heirloom Meals” on Robin Hood Radio (NPR) at 91.5 FM in Sharon, Connecticut.

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Discovering Einkorn: A Grain That Goes Against the Grain

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By Rachel Portnoy Recipe by Franck Tessier
Chefs and owners of Chez Nous Bistro, Lee

What is einkorn? Why should I eat it? How can I get it? How do I cook with it? These are questions that we are answering over and over again.

Imagine a time when concepts such as slow food, seasonal cooking and farm-to-table didn’t exist. That’s just the way all food was. Can you remember a time before food was sold pre-packaged in dubious plastics, sealed off and cut off from any connection—physical or spiritual—to the nourishing earth that provided it?

I guess it’s this yearning for something real—something nourishing not just physically, but spiritually—that is at the heart of our curiosity about the ancient grain einkorn.

And it is, of course, much more than that: Wheat has been at the heart of Western culinary culture for millennia. The cultivation of wheat was arguably one major factor in early humans shifting from nomadic existence to a domesticated civilization. (Whether the grain was first beloved for brewing alcohol or for baking bread is where the argument lies.) We love products made with wheat; we’ve been raised with them and they are delicious.

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li Rogosa holding a sheaf of einkorn.

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Old World Gem with a New World Heart

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Introduction By Brigid Dorsey

Virtually everything is made on premises, including stocks, breads and pastries; he grows herbs and edible flowers along the patio, in use well into the mild autumn this year.

At the Swiss Hutte in Hillsdale, Chef Gert Alper has been crafting traditional European meals with a distinctive fresh American flair for over 25 years. His wife, Cindy, runs the front of the house and together they also manage the four-season inn, overlooking Catamount Mountain.

Gert trained at the Hotel School Montana in Luzern (Lucerne). After stints in Wallingford, UK; and in Zurich, an ad for the Hopkins Inn in the Litchfield hills caught his eye, and he has never looked back. He met Cindy, a registered nurse, while at the Arch in Brewster, New York. By his 30th birthday they were closing on the Swiss Hutte.

We visited at peak foliage and the view from the dining rooms and bar was extraordinary. Soon there will be snow and skiers to watch while having a drink and raclette at the bar next to the fire.

Gert’s training is apparent in his high standards and attention to detail throughout. Virtually everything is made on premises, including stocks, breads and pastries; he grows herbs and edible flowers along the patio, in use well into the mild autumn this year.

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Mazzeo’s: Good Product, Good Service Runs in This Family for Generations

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Story and photos by Caroline Alexander

Rudy and Michael Mazzeo are two chips off the old butcher block.

“My father was a butcher and so was my grandfather,” says Rudy, who runs the Mazzeo’s Meat & Seafood Department inside the Guido’s Fresh Marketplace store in Great Barrington, along with his brother Mark. Michael, his brother, does the same at the Guido’s in Pittsfield.

Their father, Rodolfo, and their uncle, Pasquale, started Mazzeo’s Market in Pittsfield in 1960. That classic Italian market had the romantic charm so characteristic of family-run Italian markets. The brothers extend their family’s history of service and commitment to their customers.

Always excellent, always fresh, Mazzeo’s offers exceptional and extensive variety: 18 types of homemade sausages, eight kinds of stuffed chicken, marinated lamb, pulled pork and many cuts of steaks and roasts. They get high marks from professional and well as visiting celebrity chefs shop there as well.

Seafood is delivered fresh several times each week. The salmon comes from the Faroe Islands, and wild salmon and halibut are FedExed direct from Alaska. Most everything else is brought in from Boston or New York.

The butchers behind the counters are a knowledgeable, dedicated team, rich in personality and warmth, probably knowing most people in Berkshire County.

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A Deli in Disguise

From There to Schmear

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By Claudia Ricci

Chances are that if you decided to open a bagel café, you’d have a bundle of bagel-making experience under your belt.

But that’s not exactly the way Judy and Marvin Lieberman got started 17 years ago when they arrived in Great Barrington determined to bring good—as in New York–style bagels—to the Berkshires.

“We knew nothing,” says Judy, flashing the dazzling smile so familiar to customers. “Really, we knew nothing. It was very scary, as we had no idea how to make a bagel!”

One thing the Liebermans did know, however, is that they needed to get expertise fast. So when a friend in New York saw an ad for a “bagel consultant” in the newspaper, the couple acted quickly to bring him on board. The consultant spent three weeks with Liebermans, teaching them the bagel basics. He also helped them select the best equipment, and helped them understand how to outfit the store with salads, lox, pastrami, deli meats and pastry.

The day before the Great Barrington Bagel Co. opened in February 1996, Marvin was still learning how to make bagels. “It was Marvin’s final exam,” laughs Judy. That first day, despite a giant snowstorm in Great Barrington, business was brisk.

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The Great Melting Pot

By Executive Chef Greg Roach,
Wild Oats Cooperative Market,
Williamstown

theGrtMeltPotDoes anyone else hide a pickle on their Christmas tree?

That was a new one for me when I married a rural Minnesota girl of German and Norwegian extraction. Along with her heritage came foods like potato lefse and almond stollen, as well as the annual search for the pickle ornament on the Christmas tree to determine who gets open the first present.

My childhood holidays in suburban Detroit were a bit of a melting pot, with English grandparents on side and a blend of Irish and the old American South on the other. To make it even more colorful my mother had begun to resurrect our family’s Jewish traditions, which had faded a bit over two generations since the emigration of her fiery red-headed grandmother from London. Great Grandma Nellie had scandalously married a Presbyterian minister for love—which had so offended both their families, as well as the Presbyterian Church, that Nellie and her new husband, Joe, felt the need to leave the UK for Gary, Indiana, around 1905.

Our modern family holidays in Northern Berkshire County are a rather classic American mash-up. From the street you can peer through our dining room windows to see a menorah and a few subtle Hanukkah decorations.

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DISCOVERIES WINTER 2013-14

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1 Just in time for winter, locally raised Chef Simeon Bittman, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and partner Natanya Green have launched Folklore Catering. They will cater your next gathering with made-from-scratch dishes feature seasonal, sustainable, organic, local ingredients. folklorefoods@gmail.com; 413- 242-2136

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2 Winter means hunkering down at the movies, and if Great Barrington is your destination then you’re in luck! Chocolatier Doria Polinger lovingly makes her chocolate confections at H. R. Zeppelin next to the Triplex Cinema. So bag the Jujubes and buy something special to enjoy with that blockbuster flick. 413-528-8828; info@hr-zeppelin.com

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3 Spruce Ridge Farm of Old Chatham, New York, has opened a holiday shop at 255 Warren St. in Hudson, New York. Alpaca merchandise includes hats, gloves, sweaters, coats and fun toys. Open W–Sun 11am–6pm; 518-330-6294

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4 Give a gift of a cheese class at Cricket Creek Farm, available in January and February. For dates and particulars visit CricketCreekFarm.com

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5 Edward Ard, owner of locally produced David’s Biscotti, has created gluten-free biscotti in three flavors, including double chocolate. Available online from DavidsBiscotti.net or visit their commercial bakery at 11 Lombard St., Pittsfield (call first); 413-236-5708

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6 Chocolate Springs, purveyor of handcrafted fine European-style chocolate made at their café, Route 7 at the Lenox Commons, offers perfect winter treats: Chocolate-Dipped Oreo Cookies or Chocolate Potato Chip Clusters, both available in decadent dark or milk chocolate.

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EDIBLE NEWS AND NOTABLES WINTER 2013-14

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Five Berkshire County farms have been awarded grants totaling $65,625 from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Funded projects help recipients with environmental and economic issues on their farms.

The Ag-Energy Grant and Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP) are two of several within the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR)’s Division of Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance. The division’s mission is to provide technical assistance, training, conservation and funding to promote economically viable and environmentally sound agricultural practices in Massachusetts.

AEEP Grant Awardees:

  • Broadlawn Farm, Adams:
    $25,000–—water runoff management
  • Susan B. Anthony Farm, Adams: $10,000—a well for water
    Ag-Energy Grant Awardees:
  • Ioka Valley Farm, Hancock:
    $16,916—15kW photovoltaic system
  • Mill Brook Sugarhouse, Lenox: $10,500—reverse osmosis equipment to reduce water content in the production of maple syrup
  • Maple Shade Farm, Sheffield:
    $3,209—variable-speed pump for milking dairy cows

newsMezze

Mezze Bistro + Bar, Williamstown, has hired a new chef: Pedro Rangel, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. Rangel will continue Mezze’s mission of focusing on local, seasonal ingredients while adding his own creative and contemporary ethnic small plates and dishes. We wish Chef Rangel the best. MezzeRestaurant.com

newsGypsyJoynt

The owners of Gypsy Joynt, Great Barrington, plan to open Gypsy Joynt Jive on Bridge Street.

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