A Proper High Tea At Better Farm: Vegan Scones And Elderberry Jam

Shay (left) and Rachel show off their scones and elderberry jam.

Shay (left) and Rachel show off their scones and elderberry jam.

It was domestic bliss at Better Farm yesterday as sustainability students Shayna Jennings and Rachel Magathan did some preserving and baking to host a small tea time with Better Farm residents.

Utilizing elderberries picked locally last season (and kept frozen in a standing basement freezer), Rachel set about making the jam while Shay took charge on the scones. Within the hour, several people from the farm were enjoying a proper high tea outside. Here's how the ladies pulled it off.

Vegan Scones


  • 2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. vegan butter substitute
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk


  1. Heat oven to 425°F
  2. Put flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; stir mix well Add vegan butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine granules.
  3. Add sugar; toss to mix.
  4. Add coconut milk and stir with a fork until dough forms.
  5. Form dough into a ball and turn smooth side up.
  6. Pat or roll into a 6-inch circle.
  7. cut each circle into six or eight wedges.
  8. place wedges on an ungreased cookie sheet—slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft.
  9. sprinkle desired amount of cinnamon and sugar on each scone.
  10. Bake about 12 minutes, or until medium brown on top.

Elderberry Jam


  • Elderberries, stripped from the stalk, washed and drained thoroughly
  • Juice of one lemon for every 3 oz. of elderberries (adjust accordingly)
  • Equal parts sugar-to-elderberry


  1. Place the elderberries and lemon juice in a large pan and heat over a medium heat until the juices start to run. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Skim off any scum and stems that rise to the surface.
  2. Add the sugar and stir it in until it’s completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point.

Two things to note here: the jam will bubble up so you do need to use a big pan (a preserving pan, if you have one). To know when the jam has set, put a saucer into the freezer and after 10 minutes, spoon a blob onto a cold saucer. Leave it for 10–15 seconds, then push with your finger. If it has formed a skin and wrinkles when you push, it has reached setting point.

Elderberry jam recipe from Gin and Crumpets.

1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Sustainability Students Forage Edible Wilds For A Forest-To-Table Meal

Sustainability Students Forage Edible Wilds For A Forest-To-Table Meal

Better Farm's sustainability students last week foraged wild edible plants on the property for a farm-to-table meal.

Nina, Steph and Levi headed out into the woods, fields, and pond to find cattail, nettles, burdock and thistle for inclusion in Vietnamese pho, a traditional noodle soup.

Read More

Autumn Recipes

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to buy only real-food ingredients that you can pronounce and prepare at home in your kitchen. The recipes below utilize garden-grown produce (wherever possible) and all-natural ingredients.


Epic Better Farm Breakfast Stack


One large potato

1/3 c. squash or carrot from the garden

1/4 onion, diced

4 slices of zucchini bread

4 farm-fresh eggs


  • Shred the potato, squash and carrot.
  • Mix with diced onion and scoop two patties into oiled skillet.
  • Flip after 3-5 minutes, cooking until both sides of patties are golden-brown.
  • Set potato pancakes aside.
  • Toast your bread. While in toaster, crack four eggs in an oiled pan over low heat.
  • Flip eggs after 1.5 minutes.
  • Wait 30 seconds and turn off heat.
  • On a plate, stack two pieces of toast, one potato pancake, and one two over-easy eggs.

Serves 2.

German Pancakes


Real Simple

preparation: 10 minutes

cooking: 25 minutes 


3 large eggs

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2c. milk, preferably whole (or soy milk)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp.vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (optional)

1/2 c. fruit jam (optional)

2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar 


  • Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, salt, and vanilla and mix until incorporated; set aside.
  • Add the butter to a large cast-iron skillet and transfer to oven until the butter melts. Remove from oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot skillet. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
  • Drizzle the lemon juice (if using) over the pancake. Spread the jam (if using) evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar.

Serves 4


Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Pumpkin Gnocchi

From Mother Earth News


1 1/2 cups russet potatoes, peeled, then boiled until tender

1 cup pumpkin or squash purée (

Pumpkin Purée Recipe


1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 egg

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Few twists freshly ground pepper

1/2 to 1 tsp salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

About 12 fresh sage leaves, minced

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


In a large bowl, mash or rice the potatoes and allow them to cool. With a fork, gently mix in the remaining ingredients except flour, butter and sage. Add flour a little at a time until you have a smooth, sticky dough. Briefly knead the dough in the bowl just until the last bits of flour have been incorporated.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil while you divide the dough into 6 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a long rope, one-half inch in diameter. Cut the rope into half-inch pieces. Roll each piece of gnocchi down the back of the tines of a floured fork to make sauce-holding shallow grooves. Set the pumpkin gnocchi on a floured baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Immediately begin boiling small batches of gnocchi. They should rise to the surface after a couple of minutes. Once they rise, boil for 2 to 3 minutes more. Test a piece from the first batch to make sure it is cooked through and not gummy, and adjust cooking time accordingly. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and add them to a lightly buttered bowl. Keep covered.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet to medium-high and add the butter. Let it cook without stirring until the edges begin to brown. Stir in the sage and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the butter over the gnocchi and stir to coat. Ladle into bowls.

Serves 6 to 8.

Zucchini Meatballs


Circle B Kitchens

These little "meatballs" just explode with flavor.  They'd be perfect for a party appetizer if you chopped the zucchini a little smaller and then formed them into little bite-size morsels.  If you want a more "sauce-y tomato condiment, you can pulse the tomatoes a couple of times in the food processor to create more of a sauce.  I tried that and it was just wonderful. I also substituted asiago cheese for the scamorza and it was fantastic, and substituted panko breadcrumbs in the coating, which made them even crispier.

Serves 6


3 medium zucchini, chopped

1 cup/250 ml smoked scamorza, cubed (I used grated Asiago)

1 cup/250 ml Pecorino cheese (I used a combination of grated pecorino and parmesan)

Small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 2-3 tablespoons)

2 eggs

1 cup/250 ml bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups/375 ml extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

2 cups panko breadcrumbs for coating

Tomato Salad

20 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used salad tomatoes)

4 fresh basil leaves, torn


1/4 cup/50 ml extra-virgin olive oil


For the meatballs: 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the chopped zucchini, bring back to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the excess water from the zucchini. Transfer the zucchini to a sheet pan and allow to cool. Squeeze out the excess water from the boiled zucchini.

In a mixing bowl, add the zucchini, scamorza cheese, Pecorino cheese, fresh mint leaves, eggs, and bread crumbs. Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. With your hands, shape the meatballs into the size of golf balls. Coat the meatballs in panko bread crumbs.

Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan. Gently place the meatballs into the hot oil and let fry until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with an absorbent paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve with the tomato salad.

To make the tomato salad: Add the cherry tomatoes, basil, and salt to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together.

Autumn Mushroom Stroganoff


Mind Body Green

Time: 15 - 30 minutes

Serves 4-6

Vegan, Gluten-free options (see cook’s notes below) Nut-free, Soy-free (see cook’s notes below)


  • 8 ounces uncooked ribbon noodles (230g)
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread (15g)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped (140g)
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour, divided (20g)
  • 2 cups beefless beef broth or veggie broth (.5 liters)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (15ml)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (5ml)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste (6g)
  • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (half portobello and half button mushrooms), cut into large 2-inch chunks (740g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (3g)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (15ml)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream - optional (55g)
  • 10 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced (6g)


Cook the noodles per the direction on the package. Under cook them a bit because they will be cooked again once incorporated into the sauce. Drain, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the Earth Balance and saute the onions for three minutes on medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Gradually add the broth, soy sauce, lemon juice and tomato paste, while stirring at the same time. Stir until mixture becomes thick and bubbly, about a minute.

Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage and salt. Stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until mushrooms have shrunk in size.

Add the vinegar and simmer for 4 more minutes.

Add the noodles, sour cream, 1 tablespoon of flour, black pepper and parsley and cook on low for an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Cook’s Notes:

You can make this dish gluten free if you use gluten-free pasta, gluten free soy sauce and substitute the whole wheat flour with rice flour. If you want a soy-free version, swap out the soy sauce with sea salt to taste.


The Most Perfect Apple Pie

Apple Pie

I found this gem over at the

Williams-Sonoma website

. Boy, does this pie come out amazing. The butter can easily be swapped out for a vegan variety. I also left out the egg-white wash.


For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch
  •   thick
  • 2 lb. Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp. water
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar


To make the dough, in a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and granulated sugar together until combined, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add 3 Tbs. of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half of the dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half and then into quarters and transfer it to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish. Unfold and gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper, roll out the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Using leaf pie cutters, make rows of cutouts in the dough, spacing them 1/2 inch apart and leaving a 1-inch border along the edges, to create a lattice appearance. Reserve the cutouts for decorating. Reroll the dough scraps to make more cutouts. Refrigerate the lattice top and cutouts for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a large Dutch oven, stir together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch. Set over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened and become glossy, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven, place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Let the pie shell, lattice top and leaf cutouts stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Transfer the apple filling to the pie shell, scatter the butter pieces on top, and gently invert the lattice top over the pie. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the dish and press the top and bottom crusts together to seal. Brush the underside of the leaf cutouts with egg wash and gently press them onto the edges of the piecrust, overlapping the leaves slightly. Decorate as desired with the remaining leaves. Brush the entire top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet. Bake until the crust is crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour, covering the edges with aluminum foil if they become too dark. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours before serving. Serves 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

1 ripe avocado

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1/4 cup raw agave nectar

1/4 c. almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract


Puree ingredients until smooth. Serve chilled.

Raw Chocolate


Food Matters


  • 1 cup raw cacao 
  • 2-3 tablespoons raw honey 
  • 1 cup cacao butter (or swap for coconut oil) 


Combine all your ingredients. If you are in a cooler climate and your coconut oil is hard, you may have to slightly melt it in a double boiler. Pour into chocolate molds or a lined baking tray (to keep it super simple) and allow to set in the fridge!

Get creative and add your favorites to really treat your taste buds. A dash of vanilla, a pinch of sea salt, a little nut butter, goji berries or raspberries... The choices are endless!

Suggested Combinations

  • Coconut & Raspberries (Pictured) 
  • Vanilla & Flaked Almonds 
  • Pinch Of Sea Salt 
  • Nut Butter 
  • Goji Berries 
  • Puffed Quinoa 

Healthy Cookies


3 mashed bananas (ripe)

1/3 cup apple sauce

2 cups oats

1/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup raisins or nuts

1 cup good chocolate chunks

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon


preheat oven to 350 degrees

bake for 15-20 minutes

Cool and Enjoy!

DIY Spiced Cinnamon Whiskey




  • 1 (750 ml) bottle inexpensive whiskey
  • 8 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3 oz Simple syrup
  • 6 Whole dried red chile peppers (optional)


Empty the bottle of whiskey into a large container with a lid. Add the cinnamon sticks and simple syrup and seal. Shake the container and let stand for five days, shaking daily.

After five days, add the dried chile peppers to the container, if desired, and shake. Let stand for three to four more days, tasting after the first day to test the flavor intensity. When the flavor reaches the desired intensity, strain and rebottle.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Zucchini Relish!

Best. Relish. Ever.

The zucchini is coming in hot this week in the Better Farm garden, leading to a rainy-day decision to put it to good use and can up some sweet zucchini relish! Based on what we found in the kitchen cabinets, Xuan and I cooked up a fresh batch, forged from two different recipes we found online.

The recipes came from Food.com and Taste of Home sites.  Borrowing some tips from each, here are the steps Xuan and I took to make the (truly, absolutely delicious) relish.


  • 5 c. finely chopped zucchini
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 Tbs. pickling salt (we used sea salt)
  • 1 ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • ¾ c. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch


Xuan Du chops up some heirloom zucchinis.

  1. Finely chop the zucchini and onions, and add them to a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the salt and let the mixture sit for one hour.
  3. Drain the mixture through a sieve, rinse, and drain again. Press out as much water as possible.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine mix with granulated sugar, cider vinegar, curry powder, celery seed, black pepper and turmeric.
  5. Bring everything to a boil on high heat, then gently boil for about 15 minutes.
  6. Stir blended water and cornstarch into the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the relish thickens and clears. 
  7. Transfer the sweet zucchini relish into a hot, sterilized pint Mason jar (heat the jar and lid in the oven for five minutes).
  8. Wipe the jar clean and seal with the still-hot lid and ring.

DIY Granola

At Better Farm, we make every effort to buy ingredients as opposed to pre-made, processed foods. By learning to create our own dishes, breads, and other products, we can control what is in our food and ensure only the healthiest, best ingredients make it to our table. Our latest "from-scratch" effort was to make granola.

First, we gathered our ingredients: oats, dried cranberries, almonds, dried apricots, salt, oil, honey, and molasses. There's no exact list of ingredients you need; this is all about what you like! NO matter what ingredients you pick, here's the basic tutorial on making the granola:
  • Turn the oven on to 350 
  • In a large bowl, mix all your dried ingredients
  • Add wet ingredients (you will know you've added enough when the mixture begins to clump)
  • Pour the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and press it down into all the corners.
  • Bake for 12 minutes
  • Take out the tray and mix up the granola, then return the tray to the oven
  • Bake until the granola is golden-brown
  • Enjoy with yogurt, milk, soy or almond milk!

Eat Your Enemies: Spotlight on Invasivore

Sir-fried carrot and invasive burdock root. Image from Food 52.
In a world of international shipping, plane travel, criss-crossing railroad tracks, and roads, invasive species have become par for the course. In any ecosystem, you're likely to find a number of species that have immigrated from elsewhere; often with detrimental effects to the native population.

Invasivore, a group of people taking advantage of this invasion, promotes the consumption of invasive species as a means of controlling those populations and essentially turning proverbial lemons into delicious lemonade.

From prehistoric times, humans have had an amazing track-record of severely reducing the populations of species we eat.  Indeed, it seems that much of the time we can’t stop ourselves.  The folks at Invasivore believe we can tap that hunger to reduce the impacts of harmful invasive species.

The mission at Invasivore is to be a one-stop guide for devouring Invasive Species, those organisms which have been moved around the world, damaging their new surroundings.  Think of it as reasonable revenge for the harm these species cause.  The word “invasivore” comes from combining “Invasive Species” with the latin for “devour” as in “carnivore”.  Thus invasivore = one who eats invasive species.

Over at the group's website, you can peruse recipes for preparing invasive species (ahem, burdock), as well as exposition and commentary on related topics such as species’ profiles, histories and cultural significance, harvesting tips, interviews with Invasivores-at-large, and summaries of relevant scientific research.

Material for the Invasivore project is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant # NSF-DGE-0504495 to the GLOBES interdisciplinary training program at the University of Notre Dame.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Breadmaking 101: French Baguettes

BREAD! What can I say, we all love it—and making it is not that hard. I have never really made bread because the whole process seemed a little daunting. But since I've started doing it, I've learned to love the procedure of it (and, of course, the finished product).

Did you know yeast is alive? I certainly didn't realize that at first. But in breadmaking, you rely on your living yeast to help make your dough rise. Throughout the process you bring the yeast back to life—pretty biblical and awesome if you ask me. Working in a bakery at Whole Foods, I eat a good amount of bread. But to make your own bread is an act that's deeply satisfying. The first time really made bread was during last summer's Sustainability Education Program at Better Farm. Greg taught us how to make bread and that was when I realized how much I loved it. Once I came back home I started to really work on my skills of baking so I been starting out easy with a French baguette and I just keep make same thing. Here are some easy instructions on making your own. Trust me, each time you do it, it will get easier!

Making French Baguettes
All you need to make a baguette are four simple ingredients: yeast, flour, salt, and water. Here are step-by-step instructions:

2 1/4 tsp. (1 packet) instant yeast
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water (120º - 130º)   

  1.  Put 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour (not bread flour) into a bowl.
  2. Add 2.25 teaspoons of salt in the bowl with the flour it mix it in.
  3. Take 1.5 cups of warm water and add the yeast to the water. Let sit for about a minute.
  4. Slowly add the water with the yeast in to the bowl of flour and salt and mix for 5 minutes. I have a bread hook on my mixer but if you don't, just do this step by hand.
  5. After five minutes, take the bread out of the bowl and let sit for about two minutes. 
  6. Clean the bowl, then coat the bottom of the bowl with a teaspoon of olive oil so the dough does not stick. Return the dough to the bowl and let it sit, covered with a clean dish towl, for 3.5 hours.
  7. Deflate the dough by folding it over. Put the dough back in the bowl for another 2 hours.
  8. Take the dough out and cut into three loafs. Let sit for five minutes.
  9. Now you get to shape the loaves—my favorite part! I watched a video of JuliaChild making a French baguette to learn some techniques and would recommend you do the same if you're new to all this. Don't forget to put three or four slices into your shaped loaves!
  10. Put your shaped loaves on a lightly floured baking sheet and let sit for other two hours.
  11. Slide your loaves onto the bottom rack of a 450-degree oven and bake for 25, spritzing the loaves with water (in a spray bottle) every two minutes for the first six minutes. After the sixth minute, move the bread to the top rack of the oven for the remaining time.
Photos of my bread-making process over time:

first time making it
second time
third time

One the questions people always ask me is, What's the key to baking bread? I think the answer love. If you put your heart into making it, it shows.

An Apple a Day...

Homemade cider press from Instructables.
It's a great year for apples. Whether you've got a tree or two in your yard, enjoy picking your own, or just love to load up at farmers' markets, we're coming up on a strong season of pies, fresh-pressed cider, turnovers, and any other apple-related dishes you can dream up.

After a tricky season last year when droughts caused a marked decrease in fruit production, apples have made a comeback with places like the local Burrville Cider Mill bringing back gallon jugs of cider and a marked drop in consumer cost for the fruit that did Adam and Eve in.

So however you go about acquiring this most wonderful fruit, consider between bites creating a delicious batch of apple sauce, pressing your own cider, or just utilizing one of the below recipes for a treat that's, well, sweet like apple pie on a Sunday afternoon.

Not for the faint of heart, here's a tutorial on constructing your very own cider press:

And for the rest of you, here are some great recipes being broadcast throughout the Internet in recent days:

Canned Apple Pie Filling
Great as a gift, or for storing until you want a fresh-baked pie this winter!

10 pounds tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced (~20 cups sliced)
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup Clearjel
1 T. cinnamon
2-1/2 cups cold water (2 1/2 qts water if you omit apple juice)
5 cups apple juice
1 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Preparation -
For fresh apples, place 6 cups at a time into 1 gallon of boiling water and boil one minute when it comes back to a boil. Drain but keep fruit covered in a bowl.
In a stockpot, mix the sugar, Clearjel, cinnamon, nutmeg together. Add the water and apple juice, stir to mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice. Fold apples into mixture.

Pack the apples into hot, sterilized quart size canning jars. Best way to fill is in layers. Using the funnel ladle one large scoop and using the spatula press the apples down in the jar to remove the bubbles. Continue filling using this technique so that you work your way up the jar with as little air bubbles as possible. Fill the jars to 1" headspace. (Because of expansion you can go to 2")

Wipe the rims and place the hot lid/rings on the jars. Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes at a full rolling boil. Wait 5 minutes, remove and place on dishtowel overnight undisturbed. The next day remove rings and clean jars and label with recipe name and date. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.  This recipe will make 6 - 7 quarts.

Note: For a great variation substitute brown sugar for the regular sugar and apple cider for the apple juice. This will make an amazing Caramel Apple Pie filling! 

If you need Clear Jel you can order it from the SB Canning Store!
BEST Vegan Apple Pie
From My Vegan Son 
Pie crust (make your own or check out the “Wholly Wholesome” organic, traditional pie crust) Filling:
  • 4 large organic apple
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 Tbs. flour
Pie Top:
  • 1 stick of butter or vegan replacement (~1/2 c.)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • (1/3) cup sugar
Preheat your oven to 350F. Wash, peel, and chop your apples. Place them in a bowl. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour, and lime juice. Mix well. Pour the apples on the pie crust.

In a separate bowl place the buttery stick, the flour, and the sugar. Using your hands, combine the ingredients until they form a dough. Make one big dough ball and break into four smaller dough balls. Each dough ball should cover about 1/4 of the pie. Using your hands, flatten the dough balls as if you were making tortillas and start covering up the pie until it is completely covered.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until slightly golden (see picture).
Let it cool before you dig in
*Note: Always bake the pie on top of a pizza pan in case of pie drippings. 
Cranberry and Apple Crumble
From Spoonful
Cranberry and Apple Crumble

This sweet-tart crumble is best served warm, topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (or vegan alternative). To be sure you're using the freshest berries, you'll want to choose fruit that has bounce in it. Or you can put it to the water test. Small pockets of air trapped in fresh cranberries make them bounce—and float in water.
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 cups peeled and sliced (about 1/2 inch thick) apples (we like Braeburn or Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Heat the oven to 375°. Combine the flour, G cup of the sugar, the brown sugar, and the butter in a bowl. Mix the ingredients with your fingertips to create pea-size crumbs. (Alternatively, pulse the mixture in a food processor 10 times or so.)
  2. Combine the apple slices and cranberries in a large bowl. Mix the juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the fruit and toss well.
  3. Spoon the fruit into a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle on the flour mixture. Bake the crumble until bubbly and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Delicious, Nutritious, Homemade (and Homegrown) PIerogies

After harvesting a mountain of potatoes last week, we set about making a Last Supper for the final summer crop of artists-in-residence and intern that included homemade pierogies stuffed with homegrown food like potatoes, leeks, and fresh herbs.

Pierogies are a traditional central and eastern European dish of dumplings stuffed with any combination of foods (often potato-based, but variations on the recipe can include just about anything you can dream up). Here's the basic recipe we followed, but you should feel adventurous enough to add your own twist anywhere you see fit.

Homemade Pierogie Recipe
Makes 12-15 pierogies
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogie (we used vegan sour cream)
  • 1/4 c. butter or butter replacer, softened and cut into small pieces
  • butter and onions for sauteing (we used leeks instead of onions)
  • ingredients for filling of your choice (we used potato, leeks, fresh herbs, and finely diced crimini mushrooms)


Pierogie Dough
To prepare the pierogie dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). Cover the dough and allow it to sit at least 20 minutes (overnight is fine too—the dough can be kept in your fridge for up to two days).
Peel and boil 5 large potatoes until soft. While the potatoes boil, prepare the other ingredients. We finely chopped our leeks, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and garlic, and sauteed in olive oil until the garlic and leeks were translucent. Smash the potatoes and mix them with your otehr filling ingredients (you can also add cheese here if you so desire). Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1" balls.

Prepping Your Pierogies
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface until the dough is only 1/8" thick. Use a drinking glass to cut circles of dough (2" for small pierogies and 3 1/2" for large pierogies). Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork or your fingers.
Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Saute chopped onions (or leeks) in butter or butter replacer in a large pan until soft. Add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream, jam, or any other toppings you like.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Turning Salad into Soul Food

We've been pairing salads with everything, like this homemade pesto dish from the garden.
At the farm, we have a HUGE amount of organic, buttercrunch lettuce we've been selling in bulk to stores and restaurants, and retail out of the farm stand. But we still have a lot leftover for our use in the house. Now, I’m not a big fan of lettuce or salads—kind of counterintuitive when you're flush with the stuff. I'm determined to change my ways. Also, this buttercrunch lettuce is a great source of vitamin A, phytonutrients, fiber, vitamin K, and folates: so it wouldn't hurt to add as much as possible to the diet.

Here's a little more about the nutritional value of buttercrunch lettuce, gleaned from LiveStrong.com: 
Buttercrunch lettuce provides almost 70 percent of your DV for vitamin K, the nutrient responsible for proper clotting of blood. It also contributes more than one-third of your daily vitamin A needs. Vitamin A encourages strong vision and helps you fight infection. Additionally, buttercrunch offers 10 percent of your DV for folate, a nutrient that supports healthy pregnancies, brain development and may fight depression. Buttercrunch is higher in vitamin K than even Romaine lettuce but is not as high in vitamin A or folate.
Each 1-cup serving of chopped or shredded buttercrunch lettuce provides between 2 and 5 percent of the DV for calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. The mineral content of butterhead-type lettuces is about the same as that in Romaine or iceberg lettuces.

So, I wanted to look up recipes that involved lettuce so I could get better at eating it on a regular basis. Now, I love a classic BLT and I found a recipe for a BLT salad. Another lettuce recipe I want to try is Artichoke Salad. I mean, who doesn't like artichokes? The recipe I found for that calls for  mushrooms, which I wouldn't have eaten a month ago but am now learning to love. The third salad I found is a Deep Dish Layered Salad. I'm working toward having a salad with every meal.

And of course remember that salads are great ways to do away with leftovers! In addition to any produce in your fridge, don't be afraid to toss last night's rice, beans, or what's left of your hummus, couscous, or pasta in as well.

BLT Salad
1 pound bacon (or vegan bacon, there are lots of kinds out there to choose from)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (or Veganaise/Nayonaise)
1/4 cup milk (soy milk will also work)
1 teaspoon garlic powder  
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste  
1 head lettuce - rinsed, dried and shredded
2 large tomatoes, chopped  
2 cups seasoned croutons
    Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat, turning frequently, until evenly browned. Drain, crumble and set aside. In a blender or food processor, combine mayonnaise, milk, garlic powder and black pepper. Blend until smooth. Season the dressing with salt. Combine lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and croutons in a large salad bowl. Toss with dressing, and serve immediately.

Artichoke Salad
.7 ounces of Italian-style salad dressing
1 cup sour cream (or vegan sour cream equivalent, Tofutti makes a great one) 

4 cups chopped lettuce                                         
1 cup chopped red bell pepper  
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms  
1/4 cup diced onion
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and Italian dressing mix.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, red pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, onion and artichoke hearts. Top with dressing and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Deep Dish Layered Salad 
2 eggs
1 1/2 heads lettuce - rinsed, dried, and shredded  
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper 
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms  
2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
2 tablespoons bacon bits                      
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups mayonnaise  
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder  
1/2 teaspoon curry powder 
1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the eggs from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
2. Layer 1/2 of the lettuce in the bottom of a large bowl. Follow with a layer of celery, bell pepper, green onion, mushrooms, peas and egg. Top with remaining lettuce.
3. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, brown sugar, garlic powder and curry powder. Spread evenly over top of salad. Sprinkle with bacon bits and Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Want to get some lettuce of your very own? Stop by our farmstand or email info@betterfarm.org.