Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Our Favorite Loaf of Bread…for now, that is!

December 8th, 2011 by nancyross


Our Favorite BreadWhether it be the holidays or just a day that requires the comfort of a loaf of homemade bread, we have the perfect recipe to share with you from King Arthur Flour.  Raisin Pecan Rye Bread is a soft, slightly sweet light rye bread that is perfect on its own, slathered with butter, or toasted as an accompaniment to breakfast. 

Since we began baking and serving this bread at the Dutch Iris Inn (sorry…not every

Prepare the Biga

morning!), we have been getting compliments galore.  We credit this enthusiasm to King Arthur Flour, where we found the recipe not too long ago.  Throughout this blog, you can see a pictorial rendition of the bread, but be sure to visit King Arthur Flour’s website to get the recipe for yourself!  FYI - We like to experiment with recipes… our photos also show a non-pecan/non-raisin loaf where we substituted fresh orange zest.  It was a delicious variation, yum!

Dough Preparation

For those of you who do not know King Arthur Flour and love to bake, you MUST visit their website, request a catalog, or make the pilgrimage to Norwich Vermont.  We have been going to the store for years, back when they were just a little building that soon grew and grew, then a new building, which has been growing and growing.  KAF offers bakers every possible known product to make the most delicious breads, cookies, pies and more.  Their website is chock full of recipes and tips, the blogs are very helpful and entertaining, and there is something for everyone. 

Ready to Rise

Not a baker?  They have great mixes.  Gluten Free?  They have a full line of gluten-free products for baking.  And take a closer look at your “baking needs” aisle in the grocery store.  Many stores across the nation carry King Arthur Flour products.

For those of you in the know about KAF, America’s oldest flour company, you understand exactly why we encourage others to become followers.  Isn’t it grand to be able to support an employee-owned company, located right here in New England, one who also recognizes the importance of domestic products and high quality?  The expertise from their resident bakers is unparalleled, with their blogs, hotline, and of course their courses. 

Fresh Baked from the Oven

You can easily attend courses and demos across the country, and a wonderful variety of classes and workshops are offered at the Norwich VT location as well.  So, roll up your sleeves, open that sack of flour, and begin!

The Concord Grape…How Sweet It Is!

October 4th, 2011 by nancyross

Concord Grapes - Round 2We are so lucky to have beautiful Concord grapes dangling from the grape arbor in our yard each year.  These sweet purple jewels are a special treat for the early fall harvest.  Friends of ours with thriving vines also take in bountiful bushels of grapes which they share with us each year.  We cherish these beauties and utilize every drop of juice we can get!  This year, we made our usual stock of Concord grape jelly, enjoyed the juice at breakfast, and we made our favorite sweet treat – Concord grape sorbet.  (More about the sorbet later) 

For those who like a little history…  Ephraim Wales Bull developed the Concord grape in 1849, according to the Concord Grape Association.  He planted around 22,000 seedlings on his farm outside Concord before he found the ideal grape.  This hardy grape ripens early (September, in our yard here in Granby CT), thereby escaping the killing frosts that are just around the corner.  The Concord grape has full-bodied flavor, beautiful blue-purple skin, and the aroma of the ripened grapes is unbelievable.  We enjoy walking beneath the grape arbor before harvest, breathing deeply the scent of sweet grapes that matches no other.  

All of the grape concoctions that we prepare at the Dutch Iris Inn begin with the Concord grape juice itself.  When we first began, we boiled the grapes down, put them through a food mill or cheese cloth to get as much of the juice as possible.  This labor intensive process took quite some time, until we learned of a way to extract the juice from all of the grapes within an hour or two – without the mess.  A friend of ours, a quintessential New England woman (and former military nurse), loaned us her stovetop triple-boiler juice extractor that she has been using for about 40 years.  Before you knew it, we had a couple of gallons of grape juice, and we were on our way to jelly preparation. 

We put up many jars of Concord grape jelly once again, having plenty to share with our guests at the breakfast table throughout the year.  For those of you who enjoy canning, you may understand the attraction of canning Concord grape jelly and juice – this all happens after the hot summer season, so the kitchen does not become a sweatshop the way it does when canning the summer harvest!

As for our Concord grape sorbet, it is a very simple process.  Here’s how we do it:  Mix 4 cups of Concord grape juice with ¾ cups sugar in a saucepan.  Heat gently and stir constantly until sugar dissolves – the mixture does not need to boil, it just needs to get warm enough to melt the sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool; chill in refrigerator.  Add 1-2 Tablespoons vodka to the sweetened grape mixture (this keeps the sorbet from freezing rock-solid), pour into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer the Concord grape sorbet to a freezer-proof container, cover and freeze until firm.  Serve and enjoy – and think about us as the sorbet passes over your lips, and your lips turn purple.  You’ll feel like a kid again!