Monthly Archives

April 2012

Yogurt of the Gods at Wake Robin Farm

When I stopped into Wake Robin Farm this morning I found the Jersey cows out to pasture and Megan Schader darting about the store with the speed and precision of a hummingbird. I asked if she was getting ready for the Regional Market. “Always,” she replied without hesitation.
She ushered me into the creamery were we talked while she busily labeled and crated Wake Robin milk. What I wanted to discuss was the yogurt – my favorite on the planet – and find out why they pulled it from a major area grocery store chain last year. As anyone who knows her might expect, Meg was open and direct.
“See how I’m preparing this milk?”
“By hand?”

“Right. We do the same with our yogurt. We were preparing it here then loading it up in our truck and delivering it ourselves to each store. We were spending hours and hours on the road and putting hundreds of miles on the truck. We went back to the store and told them it just wasn’t working for us. We asked if we could deliver the yogurt to their central warehouse. They said, ‘no, this is how you have to do it.’ It was hard because they were a major revenue source for us. But we realized we had some decisions to make.”
“That must have been scary.”

Sometimes when you buy local it isn’t just because buying local is a good thing; sometimes you buy local because the product is, literally, the best on planet Earth, and even if it wasn’t the cool thing to do you’d still go out of your way to get it. That is the case with Elderberry Pond’s basil; it’s the case with the truffles at Lune Chocolat. And it’s the case with Wake Robin Farms yogurt. I’m a yogurt person. I used to be loyal to a national brand you’d recognize, oblivious to the high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor and coloring it mostly was (go ahead, check your own fridge). One taste of Wake Robin yogurt and I dumped it like a bad habit. It’s not just that WRF’s yogurt contains just a few simple ingredients, or that you get to see the happy, healthy cows responsible for it grazing in the pasture when you buy it, or that the people who make it are committed to quality and love what they do; what hooks you and keeps you coming back is the gorgeous flavor. Creamy. Buttery. Delicious.
I’m glad the Schader’s decided to continue their dairy farming endeavors rather than pursue a career in truck driving.
Their yogurt is of the gods and you can get it for yourself in these four places: the Wake Robin Farm Store on Brutus Road in Jordan, the Skaneateles Bakery, the CNY Regional Market, and the Syracuse Real Food Co-op. If you visit the Farm you can pick up some Wake Robin milk, their award winning artisan cheese and a variety of other regionally produced foods. And if you’re lucky you might also get to see the cows.
Oh how I enjoy the Wake Robin Jerseys. Watching them in all their glorious cowness is a mesmerizing affair. I confess to gawking impolitely which is probably why they weren’t especially impressed with me this morning. I stared; they chewed; stared back. Then one shook its head in disapproval and trotted off. I swear I heard it mutter under its breath, “Why don’t ya’ just take a picture, it will last longer.”
So I did.
The color you see is natural; not a drop of bronzer needed on these Jerseys.

The Husband enjoys Wake Robin Farm plain yogurt for his savory dishes; The Girl likes Wake Robin Farm vanilla yogurt for her smoothies; I prefer Wake Robin maple syrup yogurt to top off my morning granola, pictured here with Mu Mu Muesli cereal, sold in the Wake Robin Farm Store, topped with dried fruit and nutmeg.

Earth Day at Elderberry Pond Farm

Elderberry Pond Farm, Auburn NY
To commemorate Earth Day The Husband, The Girl and I traveled four short miles to attend an “Early Garden Treasures” workshop at Elderberry Pond Farm. If you’re unfamiliar with Elderberry Pond you are missing out on one of the most beautiful, pristine farms in all of Upstate New York. More important than its loveliness, the farm is a superb example of how high quality sustainable food is grown. Elderberry is certified by the Northeast Organic Farming Association and what is immediately clear to anyone who visits is the passion Lou and Merby Lego – the He and She of the place — feel for what they do.
The Country Food Store at Elderberry Pond Farm
The workshop began with a presentation in the restaurant dining room where Lou discussed the differences between commercial farming and highly diversified organic farming. He shared with us tips for reducing the impact of common garden pests without using pesticides and which plant varieties work best in our region in his [considerable] experience.  Afterward we walked over to the barn to take a look at the onion and leek starters waiting there to be planted and at the tomato plants Lou had grafted to produce a plant that is both root-hardy and flavorful. Finally, he took us to the greenhouse where spring vegetables for the restaurant are growing.
Sampling the greens
The workshop brimmed with sage gardening advice and we left feeling inspired to get our own garden going. You need not miss out: there are two more workshops scheduled in May. Check out the details here.
You can eat what they grow! The Elderberry Pond Restaurant is now open for spring. View a sample menu, learn about the chefs and find reservation information here.
The Country Store opens in June. Should I tell you the basil grown on Elderberry Pond Farm is the best on planet Earth? Only if you promise to leave me enough for my pesto.

Why Working From Home Totally Sucks

So disappointed are these chickens with their surroundings they are no longer on speaking terms.
A hardliner for the quarantined plate, it grosses this chicken
completely out when the speedwell touches the violets.

     The most annoying thing about working from home is when sunshine gets in your eyeballs and you have to go outside to see what its deal is. Then the chickens see you’re out there and think, hey, it must be the weekend so they start in with the endless squawking until you let them out to roam. This, obviously, makes the dog terribly jealous so you’ve got to throw the ball to prevent further hurt feelings. By the time noon rolls around you’ve had enough fresh air and meditation to make your skin crawl.
Fresh air fills this dog with disgust.
When this chicken would not stop following me
I was forced to punish her with this strawberry

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Lune Chocolat

I know what you did.
You filled your beloved’s Easter basket with waxy confect from the nearby mega-mart. Some mass-produced mess in a golden box, perhaps? How original. Not that I can blame you – that’s how you were raised.  But it’s a wonder you haven’t been walked out on.
Fear not, artless lover, there is time to make amends.

Meet Lune Chocolat. Their tagline urges you to “Fill Your Soul With Chocolate” and, my word, you only have to gaze upon their wares to feel so inclined. Imagine a treat cart on Hogwarts Express filled with confectionary rapture for grown-ups. We’re talking jouir, people, a stratum of flavors that demand to be savored. You’ll find no brittle molded bunnies here, no rubber laboratory chocolate injected with pop tart filling. These sophisticated gems are infused by hand with the likes of fresh rosemary, divine Absinthe, habanero and, for goodness sakes, sweet potato ganache.

I visited the shop yesterday; once inside it was all I could do not to throw myself against the glass in wonderment and proclaim, “I’ll take the lot!” Restraint. Deep breath. I chose 6 pieces. Plus a floppy eared solid chocolate bunny. And a last-second bag of malted milk balls just before the credit card was run.  I can only assume the reason you, too, have not succumbed to the delights of Lune Chocolat is because you’re cheap and utterly lacking a spirit of adventure concerned that exquisite confections may be outside your budget. We’re friends, you and me, so I’ll give it to you straight: my entire tab came to $24.30.

These are my selections:
Name: Vanilla Latte
Price: $1.75
Flavor & Impressions: Oh my. Somebody get me another one now. One of my favorite things about shopping locally are the backstories (have you ever had a cashier at Wal-Mart look over your selections and exclaim, ‘Hey, let me tell you how we got the idea to make some of this stuff!’ I think not.). According to Emily, Lune Chocolat’s co-owner, the business came into possession of a mug-shaped mold that initially nobody knew what to do with. It was the brainchild of a brilliant young intern to fill each chocolate cup with melt-in-your-mouth vanilla latte ganache. Viola! Just like that my favorite tasty confection came into being. Get one. Better yet, get me one.
Name: Chai Buddha
Price: $2
Flavor & Impressions: This guy is so cute at first I felt guilty about taking a bite. Then I remembered guilt just clogs up my chakra so I relished the little fella with gusto. He’s a dark chocolate exterior with smooth, unmistakably spicy chai ganache inside, a.k.a. a fat and sassy saint of deliciousness.

Name: Guinness & Pretzels
Price: $2
Flavor & Impressions: Turning on its ear the notion that delectable confections are only for ladies and fussy French men, meet a salty-sweet treat with a hint of the Irish staple. The truffle is filled with Guinness ganache and topped with locally produced Terrell Pretzels. Makes me think ‘Super Bowl!’ Fun. Yum.
Name: Espresso
Price: $1.50
Flavor & Impressions: Coffee-lovers rejoice! This one doesn’t pretend: it is intense, sharp, smooth and dark. The Husband, who roasts his own coffee and holds snobbish opinions on coffee-related matters, put it best, “It’s like diving deeper and deeper into a rich ocean of black.”
Name: Cotton Tails
Price: $2
Flavor & Impressions: This was the first treat we pulled out of our little box. We bit into it and looked at each other with a ‘wow!’ – and it isn’t even made of chocolate! This coconut truffle has a sweet, buttery interior surrounded in slightly bitter shavings.

Name: Raspberry Drop
Price: $2.25
Flavor & Impressions: I judged this book entirely by its cover and I was so right for doing it. Colorful stripes outside, bright, fresh raspberry reduction ganache within, this lovely little gem pops with flavor. Backstory: when the season permits, Lune Chocolat uses local, organically grown raspberries.
 Purchased but not eaten (for The Girl’s Easter Basket):
Name: Floppy Eared Solid Chocolate Bunny
Price: $5.00

Incidentally, for the Earth conscious among us (hoping that’s pretty much everyone) Lune Chotolat uses biodegradable and 100% compostable packaging. 

Name: Serbet Malted Milk Balls (below)
Price: $6.00

So hurry now, my dears, and make amends for the thing of shame you bestowed upon your Other this morning. Chocolate is for lovers, and once your darling discovers you’ve gifted soul-soothing Lune Chocolat, they will know they are adored.

Unicorn Smile

‘Transformation.’ Posted by permission from The Girl herself.

Photographs of the Girl with a natural smile are as rare as unicorns. At 15 her smiles come in two varieties: Facebook Saucy and The Bored Mona Lisa Smirk.
Neither variety comes with a teeth option.
We traveled north a bit ago and the clouds were stunning — the kind of clouds that make you wonder if you’re about to be transported by vortex to the Land of Oz. The only thing to do with clouds such as this is get out in the thick of it so we pulled over and traipsed onto somebody’s field to capture pics of Girl & Sky.
She assumed the Bored Smirk and I figured that was that when all at once something miraculous happened: on the road behind us a black pickup truck screatched to a hault whereupon the driver rolled down his window and let out an unnecessarily protracted fox call in appreciation of this Tall Blond he’d happened upon.

Ah, My Girl’s marvelous transformation, that gazelle both graceful and awkward. In an instant she blossomed; cheeks tinged pink; shoulders back; a certain swivel in her hip. My word.

And the Universe saw fit to put me there – finger on shutter – to capture a rare unicorn smile (teeth included).

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