Archive | Fall 2012


AMY COTLER’S LOCAVORE WAY SERIES: 139 W. Center Rd., West Stockbridge, call or email to reserve 413-232-7174;



BERKSHIRE CO-OP MARKET: 42 Bridge St., Great Barrington; 413-528-9697;;


BERKSHIRE ORGANICS MARKET: 813 Dalton Division Rd., Dalton;


CASTLE STREET CAFÉ, 19 Castle St., Great Barrington; 413-528-5244

DOMANEY’S: 66 Main St., Great Barrington; 413-528-0024;

FARM LEARNING CENTER: Hawthorne Valley Farm, 327 County Rte. 21C, Ghent, NY

HANCOCK SHAKER VILLAGE: 1843 W. Housatonic St., Pittsfield;

HAWTHORNE VALLEY FARM: 327 County Rte. 21C, Ghent, NY



JAESCHKE’S APPLE ORCHARD, 740 Crane Ave., Pittsfield, MA

KELLY’S PACKAGE STORE: 653 Main St., Dalton; 413-684-0870;



NORTH ADAMS GREEN DRINKS: Freight Yard Pub in the Western Gateway

HERITAGE PARK:  Environmentally inclined folk talking about anything from wildlife crossings to recycling, wetlands to weatherizing. Contact or 413-230-7321

PROJECT NATIVE: 342 N. Plain Rd., Housatonic; 413-274-3433

ROUTE 7 GRILL: 999 Main St., Great Barrington; 413-528-3235

SPIRITED: 444 Pittsfield Rd., Lenox; 413-448-2274

SPRUCE RIDGE FARM: Highland Rd, Old Chatham, NY; 518-794-6294;

TAFT FARMS: Rte.… Read the rest

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THE LAST BITE: The Chicken Who Wasn’t!

Rogue rooster’s tale reveals an unlikely hero


James B. was his name. He was blond and beautiful, a rooster with eyes the color of a sunrise and a tail that went on for miles. I was 20 years old and, having raised chickens my entire life, I’d never met one I didn’t like. He was a Buff Orpington, a favorite breed of mine, which I’d often lovingly refer to as the Golden Retrievers of the chicken world.

Unfortunately, James B. was more like the Rottweiler of the chicken world. The B in his name stood for badass, a term which he faithfully lived up to each morning when I would open the gate, pour him his grain and change his muddied water. Throughout the process, he would jump at me, thrashing and flapping until he dug his spurs into my pant leg as hard as he could. Each time I shooed him away he immediately came back for more. Finally, when James felt satisfied with himself, he would back up, cock his head, look me dead in the eye and with the sun shining down on his brilliant golden tail he would lift his head and give out one last rebel yell: his mighty cock-a-doodle-doo

Now James was the one rooster among about six assorted hens, one of which I named Sara, whom I referred to as my little misfit.… Read the rest

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Edible Education

Upcoming workshops turn kitchens into classrooms

Throughout the Fall

Hancock Shaker Village offers a variety of workshops on photography, woodworking and crafts.

October Weekend (TBD): Protecting Your Landscape from Winter Pests

Learn what steps you should take to protect valuable landscape trees, shrubs and perennials from pests—be they meadow voles, turkeys or deer—all through the winter. Call for date and time; free; Ward’s Nursery, Great Barrington; call for day & time 528.0166,

Oct. 5: Apple Preserving for Kids

Berkshire Co-op Market, Great Barrington; contact Jenny Schwartz,, 413.528.9697 x33

Oct 7: Bulbs

Fall is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Learn about the variety now available: when they bloom, how to plant them and how to keep pests away! 11am; free; Wards Nursery, Great Barrington;

Oct. 11: “Risen and Punched, from Black to White and Back Again: Bread and 20th Century Germany”

Ursula Heinzelmann will use bread as a point of departure to look at history and society, and to discuss morale and taste. 6:30pm; free; Williams College, Griffin Hall, Room 6:; 413.597.3131

Oct. 12 & Nov. 2: Practices and Principles of Growing Nutrient-Dense Vegetables

Overview for serious home gardeners as well as professionals of how biological systems function and support you in addressing limiting factors in your garden.

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Taking Root

A Guide to Root Cellars

 Taking Root
Cellar at the residence of Robin and Barbara Norris, owners of Campo de Fiori, Sheffield, MA. This vaulted brick-ceiling root cellar, approximately 15 years old, was constructed into the side of a hill with gathered fieldstones from their property.

All summer we chop, marinate, grill and roast our way through the seasons’ produce—a frantic attempt to get our fill while barrels and baskets are piled high. Some of us go further: jamming, pickling, freezing and drying to carry the bounty through the short days and long winter ahead of us.

But there’s yet another way to preserve the fruits of our labor, a technique especially suited for the time-pressed home gardener or eager farm stand frequenter.

Root cellars are the ancient remedy for our busy modern lives. They save time and money and are, for the anxious among us, an efficient way to stockpile food for emergencies. But don’t think root cellars are just for Midwestern grandmas and apocalypse-fearing recluses. With a cool, dark space and a good amount of humidity you can effortlessly have juicy tomatoes in November and snappy squash in February.

Over 40,000 years ago, Native Australians were the first to take advantage the earth’s preservative qualities, burying their crops of yams for future use.… Read the rest

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Gourd Almighty

Ubiquitous pumpkin more versatile in the kitchen than on the porch


Proudly lined up outside grocery stores and farm stands, pumpkins are practically synonymous with autumn—especially here in New England. Most will go the way of the jack-o’-lantern, but don’t overlook the flavor and versatility of this rich winter squash.

This season, put a couple extra in your cart. With a little experimentation and a big knife, the pumpkin will quickly become a staple at your fall table—and not just on Thanksgiving.

You know how to pick the perfect carving pumpkin, but cooking pumpkins are a bit different. Smaller pumpkins—anything under three pounds—have the best flavor. You’ll want to make sure it doesn’t have any bruises, soft spots or punctures and, if possible, pick one with a bit of stem left in place.

Like any vegetable, there are plenty of varieties to choose from, each with its own flavor profile. Baby Pam Sugar Pies come with sweet flesh and a fine, dry grain—making them perfect for pies. Long Island Cheese, named for its coloring and flat shape, is a beautiful heirloom with moderately sweet flesh and a long shelf life—up to a year out of direct sunlight. Red Warty Thing, a newer variety, has hard and—you guessed it—red, warty skin.… Read the rest

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Choosing the Uncommon by Going a ‘Little’ Native

with help from the Staff of Ward’s Nursery & Garden Center

October offers a great opportunity to plant trees and shrubs because soils are warm and fall rains are usually abundant. Then by spring, the plant can break dormancy and be ready to fully “move in” to its new home. The time is right, so your next task is choosing the right plant.

Here at Ward’s, we have seen the popularity of certain trees and shrubs come and go, like so much fashion. For example, Burning Bush and Barberry, which we grew up with, were wildly popular landscape plants because they offered great color accents, were easy to care for (didn’t die) and were long-lasting property improvements.

Unfortunately, they were too successful. They flowered in all conditions. They produced thousands of viable seeds. Birds enjoyed the berries and spread them far and wide. Ultimately, these and other invasive plants have spread through our protected wetlands and hills, preventing native plant species (the hosts to our native birds, fungus, insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals) from thriving in the landscape.

One way out of the invasive mess is to stop the sale and planting of these troublesome plants. And now, their sale is prohibited in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State of Connecticut.… Read the rest

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Mom's Apple Pie

My mom makes the best apple pie!

Quest for That Perfect Apple Dessert

Mom's Apple Pie
Jo’s Apple Torte (Courtesy of Carole Murko)

“My mom makes the best apple pie!” “I bet her crust isn’t the perfect flaky consistency of my grandmother’s.”

“Oh, but you haven’t had my mom’s apple torte—it’s heaven!”

Have you heard or been part of that conversation? There’s something visceral about our connections to our food memories. And there’s no chance you can sway an opinion. After all, I too believe my grandmother made the best apple pie. Dare you disagree with me?

With fall in full swing and apple season upon us, apple pie is the quintessential dessert. There are probably as many apple pie recipes as there are varieties of apples. In fact, when I searched for “apple pie,” 508 recipes popped up. Can there really be that many iterations?

The answer is, decidedly, yes. It’s what I call similar, yet different. The recipes share very similar ingredients and techniques, but the stories associated with the recipes are what make them unique and memorable.

Let’s start with mine. My Nana did not operate in the world of written recipes unless forced to write them down to share with someone else. Her filling was trial and error: sliced apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, maybe some raisins—all to taste.… Read the rest

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History on the Hoof

Milking Devon arrived with Pilgrims, lovingly bred in Berkshires


It’s all connected … the landscape, the farms, the cows and the food. It’s all right here in the Berkshires, and the customer base is smart and eager to support what’s locally grown. They’re getting less timid about buying meat farmed in the Berkshires, as well as the traditional staples of vegetables and artisanal breads.

Jen and Phil Leahey raise heritage cows and pigs on their farm in Lee, and they attend the farmers’ market in Great Barrington each week, selling pasture-raised beef and pork, all hormone- and antibiotic- free. Jen and Phil manage the Leahey Farm full-time. The farm has been owned and operated by Phil’s family since 1889, and they’re committed to making it work for the long-term future.


The extended Leahey family has held onto the farm for generations, and even while many in the family work in small engine repair, carpentry, construction and excavation, they all live on the farm. Phil’s father, James, grew up on the farm and was actively involved in the dairy and the raising of work horses. He witnessed the decline of farming and became a veterinarian of “minor” (heritage) breeds. But the extensive acreage on Reservoir Road in Lee stayed in the Leahey family, and now Jen and Phil are dedicating themselves to making it a sustainable, working farm.… Read the rest

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Life Lessons From Brisket


It seems my wife and I are not alone in our love of brisket. As I set out to edit this article for edible Berkshires readers, I happened upon a whole book on the subject: The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes, by Stephanie Pierson. With that book in hand, I then started a conversation with Jake Levin, the meat cutter at The Meat Market in Great Barrington and his girlfriend Silka Glanzman, a contributor to edible Berkshires. The combined wisdom from these experts is collected here, along with the results of a home cooking experiment that compares brisket from grass-fed and corn-fed cattle.

—Bruce Firger

Life Lessons from Brisket

By Stephanie Pierson,
author of The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011)

The book began to simmer in my creative subconscious the day that I had an epiphany about three essential brisket-related truths:

  1. Brisket is in just about every cookbook but—until I came to the rescue—it had never had a book of its own.
  2. Brisket is the ultimate comfort food. While some foods will improve your meal, your mood, your day, your buttered noodles, brisket will improve your life.
  3. You think people have sex on their minds?
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“I might have the right to remain silent, but … I lack the capacity.”

Photo By Morgan E. Hartman

Over the next few issues of Edible Berkshires I anticipate a conversation with you, our readers. I hope to challenge some or all of you at times. Maybe I won’t be up to the task, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I’ll discuss what goes on at Black Queen Angus Farm in Berlin, NY, and my musings on the state of affairs in the political arena as it pertains to farming and agriculture—not just on that farm, which I lease, but in the broader sense of the Berkshire region and nationally too. After all, if we are thinking globally and acting locally, we should keep an eye on the big picture.

Close to home, we run a family farm (Black Queen Angus Farm) and a landscape design/build business (Hartland Designs Inc.). When the economy tanked in 2008– 2009, I suddenly had a tremendous amount of time to focus on the farm, where we raise 100% grass-fed Angus beef and Registered Angus breeding stock. Experience and education on the horticulture and design fronts have lent themselves well to the farming business, mostly through an understanding of soils and site assessment. Because all food is predicated on the qualities or limitations of the environment in which it is raised, these are important understandings.… Read the rest

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