Leaf Peeping and Food Cruising

JR and I spent the weekend at his brother’s house in Vermont and had a fantastic time tooling around the southeastern part of the state visiting farms, orchards, and a farmers’ market, so I have much to report, and will do so throughout this week. We visited Green Mountain Orchards and Major Farm, sheep’s milk cheesemakers, in Putney, as well as Taylor Farm – also cheesemakers, though they use cow’s milk for their award-winning Gouda – in Londonderry, and the Dorset Farmers Market, which was filled with friendly vendors selling everything from grass-fed beef to farmstead cheese, locally-sourced baked goods, and fruit wines from Putney Mountain Winery that have made me reconsider my preconceived notions – generally not positive – of fruit wines. Funny that when we speak of fruit wines, we automatically discount the fact that grapes are, in fact, fruit, and Putney Mountain Winery’s wines showed me that when done properly, grapes need not be thought of as the only fruit to generate quality wine. Winemaker Charles Dodge’s apple maple wine and cranberry wine were delicious; light and refreshing with a low alcohol level of 11 percent each, not at all cloying, and will have a place at our family’s Thanksgiving celebration, which is quite the event – complete with a bonfire and the turkey cooked in a hole in the ground (yes, there will be more on this as we get closer to Thanksgiving) – at my brother-in-law’s house, the very same house at which we stayed this weekend. Our travels to these farms and orchards yielded us all manner of cheese, along with apples, maple syrup (of course!), and bacon from Vermont Smoke and Cure, which we picked up at Taylor Farm. Now, as you all know, cheese is not inexpensive, but it is one food item I’d be hard pressed to live without, so we did splurge there, but I am already planning how to use all of the food loot we got in Vermont in this week’s menu, starting with tonight’s dinner. I’ve already roasted half of a 75-cent butternut squash (boy, do I love those bad boys!) and am about to go make the pasta dough in order to make the mashed roasted butternut into butternut ravioli. We’re going to have the ravioli with a maple cream sauce, crumbled Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon, and a salad with romaine from our garden as well as apples and an assortment of Vermont cheese (and probably some additional bacon!).

Dinner tonight: roasted butternut ravioli with housemade pasta, maple cream sauce, Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon, caramelized butternut squash, and a salad of garden romaine, Green Mountain Orchards apples, and assorted Vermont cheeses. Estimated cost for two people: $10.25. *Note: we have chickens, so the eggs for the pasta are “free”, but I estimated a half dozen at $2.00/dozen if purchased from a farm. The romaine in the garden was 30-cents per plant, so although I won’t use all of one plant, for the purpose of estimating, I used the WHOLE 30-cents. The biggest cost in this meal is the cheese, of course, and I will discuss farmstead cheesemaking in later posts, but even a gal with tight purse strings can appreciate the work that goes into making good and unique cheese, which justifies the cost.

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