Archive | Spring 2013

THE LAST BITE: The Story of the Ugliest… Chickling?

Brooding over what it means to be a chicken


Photo by Laura Field

A certain type of hen is about as useful for egg laying as a porcupine is for cuddling. This hen will monopolize a single nesting box for months at a time and lay next to nothing for eggs. If you happen to be another hen who wants to lay an egg in that box, too bad, you’re out of luck because this primadonna chicken doesn’t give a damn about your feelings or your problems. The only thing she cares about is doing whatever it takes to hatch the few eggs underneath her, no matter how long she has to sit. I’m talking, of course, about The Broody Hen.

Each spring I find about one broody girl in the flock. The morning that my sweet-tempered Diane glared at me from inside her nest, fierceness dancing in her orange eyes, I knew she was the one. She might as well have drawn a line in the sand and said, “Cross it. Make my day.” But whether I crossed it or not, her situation was hopeless. Even if Diane did harbor eggs underneath, no rooster lived on the premises to have fertilized them.… Read the rest

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Something to Chew on

In the Global Age, the top superstar chefs now have empires stretching from both coasts of this country, with an additional obligatory outpost in Las Vegas. We are now on a first-name basis with many of these star chefs, like Nobu, Mario and Jean-Georges. There are no outposts of superstar chefs in the Berkshires. Instead, there is an unusual number of chef-owned restaurants, where on a daily basis working chefs filet fish, make sauces and cook the food you eat. On any given night, you can be fairly certain that the chef has actually prepared your meal.

When we think of culture in the Berkshires, we usually think of the area’s exceptionally diverse offerings of classical music, modern dance, classical and modern theatre and art museums. This is what enriches our lives, and why many of us are attracted to living here. The Food Culture in the Berkshires is likewise strong and deep. The quality of both farms and restaurants in the county is unusually high. How many other communities have a local dairy that bottles and delivers its own milk? Where else would a former newspaper publisher start a new venture that makes world-class blue cheese? How many other communities of similar size have as many highly reviewed, independently operated chef-owned restaurants?… Read the rest

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Allium Bar and Restaurant
42 Railroad St., Great Barrington

American Legion Post 340
Route 7, Sheffield, MA

Amy Cotler’s Locavore Way
139 W. Center Rd.,
West Stockbridge

Berkshire Botanical Garden
5 West Stockbridge Rd.,

Bartholomew’s Cobble
105 Weatogue Rd., Sheffield

Berkshire Co-op Market
42 Bridge St., Great Barrington

Berkshire Organics
813 Dalton Division Rd., Dalton

Berkshire South Community
15 Crissy Rd., Great Barrington

Café Adam
420 Stockbridge Rd.,
Great Barrington

Canoe Meadows Community
Holmes Rd., Pittsfield

Castle Street Café
10 Castle St., Great Barrington

Cricket Creek Farm Girl Farm
1255 Oblong Rd., Williamstown


Chocolate Springs Café
55 Pittsfield Rd., Lenox

Clearwater Natural Foods
11 Housatonic St., Lenox

Community Health Program,
Family Services Building
442 Stockbridge Rd.,
Great Barrington
413-528-0457 ext. 1154

66 Main St., Great Barrington

Field Farm
554 Sloan Rd., Williamstown

Fiori Restaurant
47 Railroad St., Great Barrington

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
660 Merrill Rd., Pittsfield

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
760 S. Main St., Great Barrington;
and 1010 South St., Pittsfield;

Guthrie Center
2 Van Deusenville Rd.,
Great Barrington

Hancock Shaker Village
1843 W.

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Wheat-Free Morning Glory Muffin

Haven’s Café & Bakery, Lenox


The wheat-free morning glory muffin at Haven has been a customer favorite since we opened. We receive more requests for this recipe than any other. We are happy to share it, for the first time, here.

We adapted this recipe from a standard, all-purpose wheat flour base into a wheatfree edition in order to satisfy our community’s desire for wheat-free alternatives. If gluten intolerance is a health concern in your household, be sure to use oats that are labeled as gluten-free. Even though oats are naturally gluten-free they are often contaminated by being processed in the same facilities as wheat, rye and barley.

Removing gluten from a recipe necessitates substituting another “glue,” something to hold it all together. We chose eggs. You’ll notice that this recipe contains 5. We bumped it up from the original 3.

Another interesting aspect of this recipe is its use of rice bran oil. The original calls for vegetable oil. We prefer rice bran oil for its mild flavor and its favorable ratio of unsaturated to saturated fats. You may not be familiar with rice bran oil, as it is just emerging in American markets. It is widely used in Asia because its combination of mild flavor and high smoke point make it especially suitable for stir-frying and deep frying.… Read the rest

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Wheat-Free Morning Glory Muffin

Haven’s Café & Bakery, Lenox


Yield: 12 muffins

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 cup golden raisins 1 apple, grated
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease or line a standard muffin tin with paper baking cups. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, mix together all of the other ingredients. Add wet mixture to the dry mixture. Mix until batter is evenly moistened. Fill muffin cups ¾ of the way. Bake 20 to 24 minutes.

Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

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It May Be Old, but Young at Heart

Back to the Future for Heritage Wheat


Photos by Greg Nesbit Photography

Last winter I decided to spend some time looking into what’s going on with wheat. I’ve been a professional baker for over 17 years, and I was quickly tiring of more and more guests coming into our restaurant claiming wheat allergies, gluten intolerance or—even more stressful for food service—full-blown celiac disease.

I spoke with one consultant about creating a separate baking space for working with wheat, in order not to contaminate our kitchen for any highly sensitive guests, but then I thought that this seemed rather extreme. If we’ve gotten to this point, what’s really going on here? Maybe we shouldn’t be using wheat at all?

We discussed the question with our nutritionist, and she recommended the book Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, which quickly answered a lot of my niggling questions. It seems that just as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were introduced covertly into our food system a few decades ago, extreme hybridization over the last 50 or so years has altered the structure of wheat from its natural state (unbeknownst to us cooks, bakers and eaters).

In order to grow and harvest wheat more cheaply and efficiently, the grains were hybridized to grow much lower to the ground; to have sturdier stalks with heavier, easier-toseparate grain heads; to be more disease-resistant; to have higher gluten content (for fluffier loaves, of course!); and in this way to become completely dependent upon synthetic fertilizers and heavy irrigation.… Read the rest

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Blueberry-Lemon Einkorn-Oat Scones


I love to make scones of every kind and can do it every day, but for my own personal snacking it doesn’t get any better than these scones. They don’t need jam or butter; they are sweet and satisfying just the way they are. I’m happy to say that they are just as delicious or more made with Einkorn flour, but wheat flour works fine if you’ve haven’t got any Einkorn yet! I’ve done many variations: blueberrylemon, cranberry-orange, candied ginger, apple and cinnamon, banana- chocolate chip. You can put the fruit of your choice and make the glaze to complement it (a plain glaze with some buttermilk and powdered sugar is nice when you want something neutral). This is one of the few places where baking intersects with cooking in the sense that you can go off on your own a bit, so enjoy it!

  • 3 cups Einkorn (or all-purpose) flour
  • 1and 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold and well-shaken
  • 1 and 1/2 cups wild blueberries (I prefer to use frozen berries here, as they keep the dough cold for longer while you’re working with it!)

Preheat oven to 375°F.… Read the rest

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Let Them Eat Gluten-Free Cake!

Cookies and Muffins photos courtesy of Irving Farm

For those who by choice or necessity must avoid gluten (a protein found in some forms of wheat, rye and barley) in their diet, life without bread, cookies and cake can seem pretty sad. Often it seems that gluten-free options are not worth the effort of eating. But increasingly, with some care and attention, gluten-free baked goods are achieving results to challenge their gluten-containing cousins. Recently I went on a mission to find a few good local sources.

First stop was the charming Irving Farm Coffee House on Main Street in Millerton. Their excellent coffee is roasted just down the road, but I was there for a retake of the gluten-free peanut butter cookies, which I’d happened on by chance one day before a matinee next door at the Millerton Moviehouse. I was struck by how delicious (read, gluten-like!) they were—often, gluten-free cookies and pastries can have a sandy or cardboard texture or have an aftertaste from the gum or gums (usually xanthan) used with the flour to give structure in the absence of gluten’s protein.

Baker Stephanie Caul told me that after training at the Cordon Bleu in Boston she began trying gluten-free baking just from a general interest in healthy eating.… Read the rest

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Stephanie Caul’s Gluten- Dairy- Egg- Nut- Free Banana Muffins


  • 2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil of your choice
  • 2/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl, mixing by hand. In another bowl, mash bananas with both sugars. Add oil.

Add dry ingredients. Finish by folding in applesauce. Do not over-mix. Bake at 350° for approximately 20 minutes; check middle with toothpick.

Brown rice flour mix:

Note: This recipe makes 3 cups but you only need 2 for the muffins.

Stephanie suggests using the mix in other recipes, so save the remainder, but refrigerate for freshness.

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour

Blend using the paddle attachment of a mixer for a few minutes to make sure it is evenly distributed.

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30 Years Ago Today…..

Vision from the Past, Revisions for the Future


Photographs by Caroline Alexander

A few thoughts about 1983 stand out: Firstly, there wasn’t Internet, and secondly, there weren’t any commercial organic vegetable farms in the area. Anne Banks, my then-wife, and I moved to Hillsdale, New York, that April. Our intention was to grow food for ourselves and sell the surplus.

Working by hand, we cleared 3½ acres of shrubs and tangled land. In early June, our first sowings went into the newly cultivated ground. By mid-August we had our first harvest of leafy greens, roots and fruits. We had plenty to eat; the main question was where to sell the excess bounty. This necessitated knocking on restaurant and food purveyors’ doors.

I met many chefs and produce buyers as a result of my intensity (my desperation) to sell our produce. Initial responses were a mix of apprehension and curiosity. For instance, I had a big bushy head of hair and a full beard. My usual conversation starter was that everything was organically grown, which usually generated comments like “Is that hydroponic?” or “So you grow in poop?”


Success was not immediate but piecemeal. Chefs and owners gradually—and in some cases, quickly—saw the wisdom in purchasing freshly harvested food.… Read the rest

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