Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cozy Comfort Food

Today marks the first day of comfort food season, a.k.a. autumn. What better time to share one my favorite comfort food recipes, mac and cheese!
Surely you’ve heard it said that a cooking recipe is just a guideline. That statement lends itself perfectly to macaroni and cheese. The goodness of this classic is as unique and creative as the cook who prepares it.

Feel free to use the recipe below exactly as is or mix it up a little and substitute all your favorite ingredients (or whatever ingredients you happen to have in the pantry) to make it uniquely and expressly your own. Go ahead, play with your food! ~~Joy Bell

Need some help getting those creative juices flowing? Here are some suggested opportunities for personalizing:

Cheese-You don’t have to use the cheeses listed in my recipe, I find it’s best to stick with the cheeses you normally buy.
Pasta-Any pasta that will grab the gooey goodness of the cheese is fair game.
Seasoning-Add your favorite spices and seasonings. If spicy is your thing, add some cayenne!
Topping-While the buttered fresh breadcrumbs are a deal breaker in my household (almost more important than the cheese), you don’t have to follow my lead, I’ve seen folks crumble potato chips on top of their macaroni and cheese and it’s really quite tasty!
Add-Ins-This is a great place to get creative with your recipe. Throw in some stewed tomatoes, ham, chicken or veggies.

Basic Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound campanelle pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 cups milk, warmed (not boiled)
  • 8 tablespoons butter, separated
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces light havarti cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1-tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in large pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. While stirring, add warm milk and cook for a couple minutes longer (until thick and smooth).
  • Remove mixture from heat and add cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with fresh breadcrumbs. Once breadcrumbs are thoroughly coated with butter, sprinkle on top of macaroni and cheese and bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes (until browned and bubbly).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In A Pickle

As the days get shorter and the nights longer I find myself clinging to the dwindling days of summer. Tomato plants are ready for their last harvest and squash of every variety pour out of baskets at the farmer's market.

As much as I look forward to the crisp air and deep hues of autumn, I feel compelled to enjoy the few days of summer that West Virginia has left to offer.

We'd like to help you enjoy them too! In the true spirit of summer, here is a quick and delicious recipe that will serve up perfectly along side whatever it is you’re cooking on the grill tonight.

One bite of these crisp, sweet and tart pickles will remind you that it is, in fact, still summer. ~Joy Bell


It’s Still Summer Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon pickling spices
  • 6-7 Kirby Cukes, sliced
Directions:
  • Place vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and 1 tablespoon pickling spices in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until sugar and salt dissolves.
  • Place cucumbers in a jar, pour vinegar mixture over top of cucumbers and place lid on jar.
  • Store in refrigerator at least 4 hours before enjoying.
Cooks Note: Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 48 hours. A variety of seedless cucumbers can be substituted if you cannot find Kirby cucumbers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fresh Tomato Soup


If you're in a region of the state that didn't get inundated with rain this season, those green orbs that you've been patiently watching all summer are probably starting to slowly turn from subtle orange to bright red. A sure sign that you're soon to be up to your ears in tomatoes. If you're like me, the first week of tomatoes is an absolute delight, tomato sandwiches, tomato salads, tomato sauce, my husband even eats the tomatoes right off the vine, like an apple. Then the plants seem to go into overdrive and we can't keep up with them! Although I only grow a few tomato plants each year it seems they alway produce more than we can consume and a lot of them end up rotting before we can eat them. That won't be the case this year.

We recently visited one of my good friends and her husband who served this incredibly delicious tomato soup for lunch. After polishing off my second bowl, I asked for the recipe. My friends husband George, who is from Czechoslovakia, proudly produced the recipe. There was only one problem, it was in Czech! After a good laugh his wife translated it for me and also informed me that she harvests many of her tomatoes each year just for this soup and then freezes it to enjoy during the winter months.

I immediately thought of the readers of WV Living Food and wanted to share this recipe. How nice will it be to pull a delicious tomato soup out of the freezer on a cold winter night and enjoy a little bit of summer along side a piping hot grilled cheese sandwich? Once you taste this soup, you'll never eat tomato soup from a can again! But don't save it all for winter, enjoy some now along side a great summer salad. ~~ Joy Bell

George's Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 large onion/finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 small cube chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste
  • parsley/finely chopped
Directions:
  • Place tomatoes in boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes, remove from water, remove skin, puree in blender. Add 1/2 cup of water to the mixture and set aside (should produce approximately 8 cups of tomato mix).
  • In a large pot, melt butter, add onion and cook until translucent. Add flour to the cooked onion and cook while stirring for an additional 1 - 2 minutes.Add the tomato mixture continuing to stir to avoid the creation of lumps.
  • Season with soy sauce, salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste. Boil for 20 minutes, during the last minute of boiling, add the finely chopped parsley.

Cobb Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce/chopped
  • 2 grilled boneless chicken breasts/chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbly blue cheese
  • 5 slices crisp bacon/crumbled
  • 3 hard cooked eggs/chopped
  • 1 medium tomato/diced
  • 1 avocado/diced
  • 1/2 red onion/diced
Directions:
  • Place lettuce on a serving platter.
  • Layer remaining ingredients on top of lettuce.
  • Serve with your favorite dressing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Green With Envy

Other than those that are green, the array of the colorful produce available for my gastronomic enjoyment is surely gaining an inferiority complex.   It seems every time I reach for my apron, I am getting ready to prepare something green!

Before I move on to the rest of the colors that the summer has to offer, I wanted to share with you the recipes that have gotten all the other vegetables so riled up.  

I have a very small garden outside my kitchen door where each year I grow tomatoes, various herbs, mint and basil.  My basil plants are so full and bushy that I took the opportunity to make pesto.  In my opinion, there is nothing more tasty,  versatile and screams summer like bright green basil pesto.   Toss with pasta or drizzle over slices of toasted baguette to nibble on while you enjoy a refreshing glass of wine on a warm summer evening.  

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups basil leaves/washed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts/toasted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan/grated
  • 2 garlic cloves/minced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
Directions:
  • Puree all ingredients in a food processor, add more olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
Peas...every kids nemesis come dinner time.  Unless of course they've had them fresh out of the garden. Fresh from the garden and prepared properly these emerald gems are hard for anyone to refuse.  Thankfully Chef Dale Hawkins reminded me of my love for fresh peas when he sent me a bag full of them on a recent CSA delivery.  After I spent a bit of time coaxing all of them from their delightful pods, I enjoyed them in Chef Hawkins recipe for Fresh Pea Salad.



Fresh Pea Salad

Ingredients Mint Dressing:
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cup dried dates, pitted
  • 1/2 small serrano chile, stem removed
  • juice and zest of one lemon
Directions Mint Dressing:
  • Puree mint, dates, chilies, and lemon jusice and zest in a food processor or blender.  You can thin this out to desired consistency by adding water a little at a time.  
Ingredients Salad:
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 1 small head romaine or mixed lettuces cut into shreds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • fine grain sea salt
Directions Salad:
  • Cook peas in salted boiling water for approximately 20 seconds, the key is to not overcook them.  Immediately after cooking, submerge them in an ice bath.  When ready to serve, toss the peas, lettuce and pumpkin seeds together with 1/2 of the mint dressing and salt to taste.
Anyone who grows mint in their garden is undoubtedly left scratching their head each summer wondering what they are going to make with the abundance of mint that has threatened to take over their garden.  Wonder no more!  Try this refreshing mint tea recipe I recently found in Gourmet magazine.  It's a little work, but well worth it!

Mint Tea

Ingredients:
2 quarts of water
10 mint sprigs, leaves pulled off and cleaned
1/2 cup sugar

Directions:
Bring water, mind, and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.  Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher, pressing on and then discarding mint.

~~Joy Bell

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Gingersnap Day


Today is National Gingersnap Day and the perfect opportunity to share with you one of the best gingersnap recipes I've ever come across.  I fell in love with this recipe while visiting a bed and breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina with my husband.  They were set out for guests in the afternoon and when I bit into one, I was immediately reminded of my grandmother and her daily afternoon ritual.  Each afternoon around 1 p.m. she would make a cup of hot tea and enjoy it quietly with a few gingersnaps. I’d watch her dip them into her tea and then let them melt in her mouth. Following in her footsteps, that is precisely how I now enjoy my gingersnaps (or my tea- depending on how you look at it). The gingersnap recipe at the Red Rocker Inn brought me such wonderful memories that I couldn't leave without it so I asked the owner if she would share it with me. She was kind enough to say yes!  I've made them several times and enjoy them especially during the holidays but regardless of when I've made them, I have never been disappointed! These are fantastic gingersnaps and when you eat them it's possible you just might feel like you had an English grandmother too!---Joy Bell

Red Rocker Inn Gingersnaps

Ingredients:

 12 tablespoons margarine
 2 cups sugar
 2 eggs
 ½ cup molasses
 3 ¾ cup flour
 2 teaspoons baking soda
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
 2 teaspoons cloves
 2 teaspoons ginger

Directions:

 Cream margarine and sugar together
 Beat in eggs
 Add molasses and sifted dry ingredients
 Mix well
 Roll into 1” balls dip in granulated sugar
 Place on greased cookie pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes

Note: Since this recipe is from a bed and breakfast, it makes 85 cookies! Often times I’ll cut it in half, unless of course I’m making it for large groups.

~~Joy Bell

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Firefighter's Breakfast Feeds 1200













On the second Sunday of each month Kingwood's Volunteer Fire Department serves buckwheat cakes (and don't call them pancakes!), scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, sausage and bacon to folks who travel from near to far to enjoy the all-you-can-eat feast. Each month 1200 people on average come to the Community Center to enjoy the good food. Can't wait until the annual Buckwheat Festival to get your buckwheat cake fix? Then mosey on over to Kingwood on the second Sunday of each month--you'll want to make it an annual outing!

Personally, I like having firemen serve me breakfast, but if you want try your hand at the cakes that put Kingwood on the map, then enjoy this delicious recipe! -- Nikki Bowman

(Recipe makes 8-12 cakes)

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cake household yeast (or 1 cake Fleishman's Yeast or 1 envelope dry yeast) and 1 teaspoon salt into one quart lukewarm water.

Let stand a few minutes and then add 3 cups, or enough buckwheat flour to make a stiff batter. Cover and let stand overnight (or at least 4 or 5 hours).

When ready to bake the cakes, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 teaspoons sugar in 1 cup hot water. Stir into batter, then add about 1 cup or enough warm water to make a thin batter. Bake on a hot griddle.

Save at least 1 cup of the batter for the next baking. (It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week) To renew, add 1 pint lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and enough buckwheat flour to make a stiff batter. Cover and let stand overnight (or at least 4 - 5 hours)








Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chef Heath Finnell's Ribeye Perfection

While interviewing Chef Heath Finnell of Cafe' Bacchus in Morgantown for a story in the summer issue of WV Living Magazine, I asked him where he liked to eat when he wasn't turning out fantastic dishes for his patrons.  Expecting him to want someone else to do the cooking for once, his answer surprised me,  "I love to hang out in the backyard and grill," says Heath.   

With summer just around the corner (and fathers day too) I asked Heath if he would share some of his grilling techniques with the readers of WV Living and I'm so glad he said yes, I think you will be too.  

~~Joy Bell

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eating Seasonally (and Locally)


Over the last few weeks Chef Dale Hawkins has trained me in a manner similar to that of Pavlov and his dogs. The UPS truck arrives in front of my house weekly and its driver ascends the stairs to my front porch. The folks at Fish Hawk Acres in Rock Cave, W.Va have been able to pack a cardboard box full of such delightful produce that I’ve come to salivate, figuratively, when the brown uniformed deliveryman rings my doorbell. Inside the cardboard box culinary treats, carefully selected for my enjoyment, wait to be turned into fresh and original dishes. My produce drawer is stuffed with sweet young carrots in shades of cream, orange and red, tender lettuces, baby spinach, delectable pea shoots, and French breakfast radishes, even shitake mushrooms grown in French Creek, W.Va., all transcend my meals to a whole new level of tastiness. With Chef Hawkin's recipes included in the box, I've created dishes such as Spinach and Shitake Salad with Citrus Dressing, Fresh Carrot, Feta, and Black Olive Salad, Asparagus Frittata, and even an Orange-Basil Mojito!  

In addition to the locally grown produce, I’ve come to look forward to the locally made products that are included, almost weekly, in my CSA box. Recently I have received Granola made with organic cranberries and West Virginia honey from The Crazy Baker located in Renick, W.Va. which I enjoyed for breakfast.

















Pecan Pie Jelly by “The Stewed Tomato” that I used to top off a dish of vanilla ice cream, and West Virginia Maple Syrup processed and bottled for your enjoyment by Richter’s Maple House in Pickens, W.Va. that we used on the French Toast and Berries recipe found in the upcoming summer issue of WV Living Magazine.

I still have several weeks left of my Spring CSA and have already signed up for the early summer share. I’m discovering some
wonderful local food products and learning to eat seasonally. Fish Hawk Acres CSA has turned into one of my favorite adventures!





Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Myla Bowman's Perfect Pie Crust

In less than 2 weeks the summer issue of WV Living goes to print and in it, we will be bringing you pages of recipe ideas for your summer berries. When editor Nikki Bowman assigned the berry article to me she said, “You have to include my mother-in-law’s piecrust recipe, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted!” And that got me thinking. Piecrust, in my opinion is an art. It’s not simply the recipe that is key to a flaky, melt in your mouth pastry, but the technique.  

A flaky piecrust is a lost art that I’ve never been able to master. “Do you think your mother in law would allow me to video her technique so we could share it with the readers of WV Living?” I asked. And the rest, as they say, is history!

In this video, Myla Bowman shares with the readers of WV Living her tried and true techniques for the perfect piecrust. I think you’ll also enjoy the stories she weaves into the lesson. Myla is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day (with homemade marshmallows)!

After you’ve watched the video, you'll see the secret ingredient to Myla’s perfect piecrust is really no secret at all, but instead a light hand mixed with a dash of patience.

Myla Bowman's Perfect Pie Crust from Joy Bell on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Cantankerous is the adjective that best describes my general disposition for each and every one of my teenage years. Today, many years removed from those rebellious, self-involved, eye rolling, foot stomping, door slamming days, I feel humbled by the woman that I call “mom.” And although she has given her love freely, and without judgment for my entire life, it is my teenage years for which I owe her my biggest debt of gratitude.  Thanks mom! 

She was here in West Virginia last week to visit my family, and me. Knowing that we wouldn’t be together for Mothers Day, I decided to do something special for her while she was here. We went on a road trip to Grafton, home of the first Mother’s Day celebration.

Grafton is situated on the banks of the Tygart River and is a 30-minute drive from Morgantown. If you’ve never been, you should go check it out. It is a great day trip destination.

Besides visiting The International Mothers Day Shrine, we were able to check out the visually stunning B&O Railroad’s train station, and on our way back to Morgantown we stopped at Tygart Lake State Park to do some exploring.   But no self respecting day trip would be complete without food! 

Around lunchtime, and before we headed to the state park, we asked one of the local residents his favorite place to eat. “Well if you ladies are hungry,” he said, “you ought to head over to The Stagecoach on Route 50, that’s one place I’ve never left hungry!” We were hungry (we’re always hungry) so to The Stagecoach it was, and I’m here
 to tell you, this gentleman was not exaggerating. We were served so
 much food; we needed a doggy bag for our doggy bags.  

Spending much of her youth in Mobile, Alabama I’ve never known my mother to turn away from the words “cornbread” or “grits” on any “specials” board.  While at The Stagecoach, my mother was able to experience yet another West Virginia tradition.  Seeing pinto beans and cornbread listed as the daily special, that is of course what she ordered.  Never having had the “quintessential West Virginia cuisine” myself, I was curious what she would have to say. Her reaction came as no surprise; she really enjoyed it, especially the cornbread which she said was the “most plump and moist she has ever had.”





















If you’re ever looking for an interesting way to spend the day with your mom, head out to Grafton, the drive is beautiful, and there are some interesting things to see and do.

The International Mothers Day Shrine
Tygart River Dam
B&O Train Station, Grafton

If nothing else, you’ll be in excellent company for you’ll be with the truest friend your heart has ever known.

Tomorrow for Mother's Day my husband, and children are taking me on a Sunday drive to Fayetteville (no doubt getting a head start on the alms for their impending teenage years) where we'll surely find a great place to grab a bite to eat.  Leave us a comment and let us know what great food adventure you had for Mother's Day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Margarita
May 5th is a day to honor and celebrate Mexican tradition and culture. And what better way to celebrate than with food, and libations? My Cinco de Mayo drink of choice? The margarita of course!  But not the manufactured, neon concoctions you see lining the isles of your local grocery store, no sir. Call me a purist, I’ll take my margarita made with fresh, natural, make your lips pucker ingredients.

Here is one of the smoothest, most enjoyable margarita recipes that I’ve come across, which in my book pretty much epitomizes margarita greatness.

The Purist Margarita
Adapted from a recipe (Top Shelf Margarita Grande) by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:

Coarse kosher salt
Lime slice or wedge
2 ounces tequila, Cuervo Gold or Patron is my recommendation
1-ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
ice cubes

Directions:
  • Place the salt in a small shallow bowl or rimmed saucer
  • Run the lime slice around the rim of a stemmed, wide mouthed glass to moisten it, then turn the glass upside down and press the rim in the salt mixture. Set glass aside.
  • In a cocktail shaker combine all remaining ingredients and shake well to chill. Strain into the prepared glass and serve immediately.
P.S. Please, please, please resist any temptation you may have to put this drink in the blender. On the rocks, shaken, not stirred, is how this drink shines.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's Old Is New

My very thoughtful, and wonderful neighbors brought me over a container of soup today. Red Pottage…a soup that is so old it can be traced back to the bible (Genesis 25:30), now that’s old!

Up until a couple of years ago, I had never even had a beet. I remember when I was a little girl my grandfather used to eat them and always tried to get me to have a taste, “try them,” he’d say, “they taste like candied apples.” I didn’t bite, ever! I just crinkled up my nose, and went to see what my grandmother had baking in the kitchen. Today, I look forward to discovering the different ways in which I can enjoy them!

When my neighbor left, I started to think of my grandfather, then instinctively of the vegetables that seem to be so sought after these days, and the lifestyle that is once again gaining popularity. Heirloom vegetables, and a newfound focus on locally grown produce seem to be the order of the day.  It seems as if we have come full circle in my lifetime.  Having gone from a life of modest simplicity to one where there is access to abundance.  But today, I am seeing a subtle change where seemingly many are leaning toward simplicity once again.    It makes sense, in the complexity, and challenges of our world, that old, is once again new, that we are embracing the simplicity of our parents and grandparents.

I really enjoyed the pottage and the memories that came with it.   The texture was similar to split pea soup, and it had a rich, sweet, earthy taste that paid tribute to both beet, and bean.
 
Red Pottage ala Therese and Eric
Adapted from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant

Ingredients:
1-½ cups dried kidney beans
½ cup dried black beans
7 cups water
2 medium beets, peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2 ½ cups un-drained canned whole tomatoes (28-ounce can)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:
  • Sort and rinse the beans. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, and the beans to a boil.
  • Cover and simmer gently for 1-½ hours. Add the chopped beets, and continue simmer for another ½ hour or until both the beets, and beans are tender.
  • Add more water if needed, to keep the beans covered in liquid.
  • Meanwhile, sauté’ the onions in the oil until translucent, add the celery, salt, black pepper, and cayenne, and continue cooking until the celery is tender.
  • Add the tomato, and lemon juice. Lower the heat and gently simmer until the tomatoes are well stewed.
  • Stir the stewed vegetables into the beans. In a blender or food processor, puree soup, stirring frequently. Adjust the salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Serve garnished with a mint leaf, and a dollop of sour cream or with croutons.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Stainless Shines


Stainless has been the trend in appliances for about two decades and according to WV Living Food’s latest poll, stainless is still the shining star in many kitchens indicating that 66% of readers appliances are stainless steel.

Kitchen appliances are a major investment and as someone who is considering investing in new kitchen appliances I wanted to know, does stainless have staying power? I decided to contact two of the states premiere kitchen dealers to ask them, what is the new stainless?

Joe at Mike’s Kitchen and Bath in Clarkburg maintains, “stainless steel is still the hottest color on the market, and it continues to be the trend.” He continues, "Our most popular brand of appliances are Thermador, Viking, and Jenn Air.”

Rob Stepp, president of Creative Kitchens in Charleston, Huntington, and Lewisburg echoes Joe’s sentiments maintaining, “I don’t see stainless leaving the scene anytime soon.” He did add however, “If you’re looking for the next big trend, it is not in a different color, but in a different type of cooking system. The magnetic induction cooking surfaces are the most dramatic change we’re seeing in cooking trends.”

And there you have it folks, it's not bronze or titanium , not even the awful olive green of your youth (well my youth anyway). Keep an eye on magnetic induction, coming to a kitchen near you!

Be sure to vote in our latest WV Living Food poll, "what is your favorite condiment?"

Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Top Of Spaghetti

Some of my very good, and longtime friends, the Grassi’s and the Perfetti’s, come from some serious Italian heritage. When I say serious, I mean serious! I’m talking, macaroni and gravy every Friday kind of serious. Homemade, award-winning wine, out of the custom wine cellar, kind of serious.  

Why they decided to let me into their tight knit group is beyond me, but let me tell you, I’ll never complain. They feed me well, they are as loyal as can be, and always greet me with a kiss on the cheek and a glass of wine!  

Through the years, they’ve taught me a lot about love as well as a thing or two about Italian cuisine, as if you can separate the two. 

Here is a recipe for some serious, melt in your mouth, make your mama proud meatballs.  

Ingredients:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (try not to use curly parsley, it is not as flavorful as flat leaf)
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed and processed in the blender
½ cup milk
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork or lamb
1 egg
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh is always best
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 jars good quality jarred sauce (you don’t have to use jarred, if you prefer, you can make it from scratch)

Directions:
  • Heat a couple passes of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and parsley and cook approximately 5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Set pan aside to cool.
  • Place processed fresh bread crumbs in a bowl and pour milk over them and set aside. I realize this sounds a bit different, but think about the concept of adding dried breadcrumbs to something, it can’t help but suck all the moisture out of it, rather than ADD moisture…and you just had an “aha moment.” You’re welcome.
  • Combine beef, pork (or lamb), egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese then season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread cubes to get rid of excess milk and add to the meat mixture along with the cooled onions. Combine all ingredients and shape into 15 meatballs (this is gauged by my hands, if you have smaller or larger hands, of course you will have more or less meatballs).
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce (uncooked) and simmer for approximately 40 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Serve however you would like. You can eat them alone, make a meatball sub or serve over nice thick homemade spaghetti, my personal favorite!!!  
Tasty Tidbit: Following the logic that everyone is Irish on St. Patricks Day, I think everyone who cooks Italian food while listening to old “blue eyes” cooks better. Well, it can’t hurt! Download some of these classic Frank Sinatra songs to accompany you in the kitchen for this meal:

Come Fly With Me
I Get a Kick Out of You
I’ve Got The World On a String
Witchcraft
My Funny Valentine
From Here To Eternity
Young at Heart

MANGIA!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

Weeks 2 and 3 of my CSA from Fish Hawk Acres were chocked full of curious culinary delights. My boxes included items like golden, bull’s blood, and champagne ice beets, Asian greens, pea tendrils, white carrots, micro herbs, celery root, and a plethora of beautiful, tender, and flavorful lettuces. I even received dried black turtle beans, and a gorgeous focaccia from Jeff’s Breads that I used to make some tasty croutons.

I created all the recipes that Chef Hawkins included with my package, and while all of them were brilliant, I have decided to share with you the recipes that surprised me the most. Why surprising you say? Surprising because they turned out to be my favorite even though they were made from the UGLIEST produce I have ever laid my eyes upon; beets and the celery root. I’ve already shared my thoughts on beets, but have you ever seen a celery root?

Never in a million years would I have ever sought out this stumpy looking outcast but thanks to Chef Hawkins, I’m a believer! The next time you find yourself at a farmers market or grocery store and you stumble upon one of these guys, don’t hide your eyes and run away scared, grab it. It really is one of the most delightful roots with which you’ll ever cook.

Whole Roasted Beet Salad                     By Chef Dale Hawkins

Ingredients:
2 medium red beets, peeled and halved
2 medium yellow beets, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
4 cups Asian greens, washed and spun
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons crumbed chevre’ goat cheese
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

Directions:
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
• Toss the beets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap individually in foil
• Roast beets for 40 to 45 minutes, until caramelized and tender
Note: you can roast the beets up to two days in advance
• Heat remaining olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat
• Saute’ shallots for 5 minutes, until tender
• Chop roasted beets into bite size chunks
• Add beets to the hot oil and shallots, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until just cooked through
• Toss beets with half of the orange vinaigrette
• Place greens in a large serving bowl and top with beets
• Drizzle remaining dressing over greens
• Top with chopped walnuts and chevre cheese


Orange Vinaigrette
By Chef Dale Hawkins 

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice*
2/3 cup olive oil
½ clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, finely chopped

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until the dressing is well blended. Alternately, you can vigorously whisk the ingredients in a small bowl until they are incorporated together.
*Blood oranges are wonderful in this recipe, but difficult to find this time of year. If you are lucky enough to have access, I recommend using one.

Celery Root and Potato Puree
By Alice Waters (The Art of Simple Food)

Ingredients:
3 medium potatoes (preferably yellow fleshed) cut into large pieces
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 celery root, peeled and sliced thin
Salt
Milk

Directions:
• Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, Drain, and pass through a ricer or a food mill, return to the pot, stir in two tablespoons of butter, set aside
• Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium low in a heavy bottomed pan
• Add celery root, season with salt
• Cover pan tightly and cook until soft, 12 to 15 minutes (lower heat if celery root begins to turn brown)
• Puree in a blender
• Stir into the potatoes
• If the puree is too thick, thin with milk
• Season with salt and pepper if needed

Tasty Tidbits:
  • The celery root and beets can be easily peeled with a potato peeler or paring knife
  • Add a little milk to celery root to make pureeing in the blender smoother
  • A nice piece of grilled halibut perched upon the celery root puree would make an insanely delicious combination

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Will Skip School For Food

Today, America’s school buses had a lot less passengers as children left their books at home and went out into the world to experience a different type of education. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a pseudo career day giving youth the opportunity to discover not only what their parents do for a living, but also the opportunities that exist as they start to make decisions about their own futures.

I was thrilled to find out that my children had decided to spend the day with me this year instead of my husband. Can you blame them? Their options were:

a) sit in an office and take conference calls all day; or
b) go out and explore West Virginia.

In the words of my bright young children, “Duh!”

Each of them started the day with a role; Carlee, my 12 year old, was the photographer and Kyle, my nine year old, was the journalist. As we explored,  their job was to document and tell a story, both in pictures and prose.  I only had one question for them as we left the house, “if you could tell people about some places in West Virginia that you think are super special, what would you tell them about?” Here is what they had to say:

The Poky Dot Diner in Fairmont (Note from Kyle: check out my mom's article about the Poky Dot Diner in the Spring 2009 issue of WV Living Magazine.)






A gigantic hot chocolate smothered in chocolate syrup was just the nutrition they needed to start their adventure off right.








French Toast, off of the kids menu, included a garnish of cherry shoe string licorice.













We drove around for a while to enjoy the beautiful scenery and sunshine and before you knew it, it was lunch time!  We were off to The Country Club Bakery in Fairmont (rumored to be the home of the first pepperoni roll) for a perfect mid afternoon snack.










A sign on the side of Country Club Road in Fairmont let's you know that tucked in the back, that nondescript building is, in fact, the bakery.























They both thought it was "pretty cool," that Country Club Bakery was featured in the January 2007 issue of Gourmet Magazine.











Finally, something sweet to top off their tanks; their favorite detour in all of Morgantown, Tutto-Gelato on High Street where Kyle had a few questions for owner Sarah Straface.  

Kyle: How did Tutto Gelato get started?
Sarah: When we were in Italy we fell in love with Gelato and wanted to bring it home with us.

Kyle: What is your most popular flavor?
Sarah: Stracciatella, which is like a chocolate chip.

Kyle: Do you make or sell any other products?
Sarah: Yes, we sell coffee drinks, pastries, and other specialty beverages. We even have Mutt Licks (doggie ice cream).

Kyle: What is Gelato made of?
Sarah: That’s a good question! The fruit gelato is water based, so it’s like a sorbet with fruit. The others are milk based and include sugar and flavoring. And the best part is it’s all made right here in our store.

Kyle: Who started the company?
Sarah: My cousin Jenna Straface and myself.

Kyle: When did the company start? Sarah: We opened in June of 2007.

Tasty Tidbits: 
  • Kyle’s favorite Tutto-gelato flavors are blood orange and lemon
  • Carlee’s favorite Tutto-gelato flavors are blood orange and lemon
  • Tutto-Gelato is on Facebook
Our day ended with a trip to WV Living Magazine's home office to tell publisher and editor Nikki Bowman about our kid friendly favorites.  And of course use it as a photo opportunity/shameless plug for our upcoming wedding issue, hitting stores in May!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Although you may not currently receive a CSA from Fish Hawk Acres, you can find many of the same ingredients listed in Chef Hawkins recipes at local farmers markets.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of ours, which is just about ready to open for the season.  

Since it’s Earth Day, I thought I’d use the opportunity to provide information on the many wonderful farmers markets around our state.  It’s a great opportunity to help the environment, and by patronizing your local market you’re putting money back into the hands of the farmer, the local baker, and the small shop owner. 

If that doesn’t encourage you to check out your farmers market, let me appeal to your taste buds.  Have I mentioned how delicious fresh, local produce tastes?  Let me mention it.  Local produce is delicious, and far superior to the produce that has to be picked early so that it can be ripe by the time it makes its way to the grocery store. 

Of course it is not always possible to shop locally, especially in the winter months, but spring has sprung in West Virginia, go taste it!

Here is a great listing of West Virginia Farmers Markets.  If you know of one that is not listed on the link, feel free to leave a comment on this post or send an email to joy@wvlivingmagazine.com

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chart my course in Harpers Ferry

I'm heading out around the state next week to do some exploring for an upcoming article I'm working on for the magazine. If you're familiar with Harpers Ferry, send me a note about some of your favorite places; sightseeing, shopping, dining, it's all fair game! You can leave a comment on the blog or send an email to joy@wvlivingmagazine.com

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beets Me


I received my second CSA from Fish Hawk Acres on Friday, just before I went out of town for the weekend.  So while I haven't yet gotten to the recipes from Chef Hawkins,  I'm especially excited about this delivery and it's recipes.   In addition to the wonderful salad greens, Asian greens, baby radishes, and pea tendrils, it includes a variety of colorful beets;golden, bull's blood and champagne ice.  The reason that I am particularly excited about the beets is because until last year, I had never tasted a beet. It always seemed like an odd vegetable to me, and no matter how much beet advocates insisted on their natural, earthy sweetness,  I could never get past their ugly exterior (In their natural state, I think they resemble the tail of a rodent).  

Thankfully last year, while out to dinner with some friends in Lenox, Massachusetts, I decided to put my preconceptions aside, and try this less than beautiful root vegetable. I was absolutely amazed at how much I liked them, so much so that I made a promise to myself that I would learn how to prepare them at home. Now, with the guidance of Chef Hawkin's Whole Roasted Beet Salad recipe, I'll be able to fulfill that promise this week, stay tuned for the results.

In the meantime, here is one last recipe from week 1 of my Fish Hawk Acres CSA, which is far too delicious to keep to myself. Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon Ramp Dressing, courtesy of Chef Hawkins.

Ingredients:

2-3 cups fresh spinach, stemmed, washed and spun
1/4 cup ramps, minced
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
4 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. bacon drippings
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper


Directions:
  • Place prepared spinach in a large bowl.  Refigerate, tightly covered
  • Fry bacon until crisp, remove to paper towel and set aside
  • Saute' he minced ramps in the bacon drippings for about 5 minutes over low heat
  • Add sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper
  • Toss the chpped egg with the greens then pour the hot dressing over the greens, toss again lightly
  • Top with crumbled bacon

Note for vegetarians: Bacon can easily be omitted.  Use Olive Oil in place of bacon drippings.

Cooks note: I was out of bacon so I substituted some ham that I had leftover from Easter dinner.

P.S.  This is a recipe that I will surely repeat many times, it was so simple to make and really tasty.  It also was a perfect salad to pair the last piece of my Whole Wheat Country Sourdough bread from Jeff's Breads in Renick.  


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’m a novice runner and when I hit the pavement, I’m usually slow but rarely steady (more like a “run/walker” than a runner). While I haven’t yet mastered the art of running the perfect race, I have mastered how to turn out a pretty tasty piece of chicken. The key is a little preparation, low heat and slow cookin’; it’s a winner every time.  

Preparation Part 1=Brining
If you don’t brine, you really must start. It is the difference between a dry, tasteless piece of chicken and a moist, succulent one with flavor that travels right down to the bone.
There are all sorts of brine recipes that you can play around with that utilize fruits, herbs, and even maple syrup.  Here is a basic brine recipe that is great for chicken breasts.

Brine Recipe:

Ingredients:
• 1-quart cold water
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt
• ½ cup of sugar
Directions:
• Mix water, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to dissolve
• Put one pound of chicken in the brine (I use Ziploc bags, you can also use a large pan with a lid) and refrigerate for one hour
• Remove from the water and rinse REALLY well (at least 1 minute under cold water)
• Pat dry

Preparation Part 2=Dry Rub
You can go crazy with dry rubs, make your own, buy them in the store, it’s completely up to you. I personally like to play around with dry rubs that I find in the spice isle of the grocery store. Chef Heath Finnell of Café Bacchus is going to be sharing a few dry rub recipes with WV Living Food within the next couple of weeks that you may want to try out, stay tuned.

I like to mix a little bit of oil into the dry rub to ensure it sticks to the chicken. I’m told this technically makes it a wet rub, so if you’re a purist, leave the oil out.   As for me, I think it’s helpful AND it helps the chicken skin crisp up at the end of the cooking process.  Dry rub/wet rub, run/walk...such technicalities.

The slow and the steady 
• Preheat oven to 275 degrees
• Transfer the brined and rubbed chicken to a baking sheet
• Bake 2 hours (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees)
• Remove chicken from oven

The strong finish
My running partner tells me, "no matter how slow your race, always finish strong!"

• Adjust oven rack so it is close to the broiler
• Set oven to broil
• Broil chicken 5-10 minutes, until skin is crispy brown

We want to know, what is your favorite side dish for chicken?  Better yet, we want the recipe!  Feel free to post a comment to this post or send an email to joy@wvlivingmagazine.com 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Food, Fun and Friends-West Virginia Style

If a tree falls down in the woods and no one is around to hear it- does it make a sound? If you have the most breathtaking scenery and mouthwatering food but not your best friends to share it with, is there any joy in having it?

My childhood girlfriends came from New York to visit me in West Virginia this weekend. After spending a few days in our wonderful state, wild and wonderful became so much more to them than adjectives painted on a welcome sign.  

Fortunately, when they arrived on Friday, I had just received my CSA from Fish Hawk Acres and was able to incorporate some of Chef Hawkins dishes into my welcome dinner. His Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps was a hit. The recipe was really simple to prepare and allowed all the ingredients to compliment one another while maintaining their distinct flavors. It was also a nice way to introduce my friends to the famous West Virginia ramp.

















The second item I prepared from my CSA was a gorgeous Simple Spring Salad suggested by Chef Hawkins. The flavor of the freshly harvested lettuces was the perfect precursor to my main course, “slow and steady” barbequed chicken.
 
A good meal was what we needed to gain sustenance and courage for our Saturday morning adventure, a rafting trip down the spectacular Cheat Canyon. Our trip began at Cheat River Outfitters in Albright, WV and ended thirteen miles (and several class 5 rapids) later at the Jenkinsburg Bridge. It was one of the most exhilarating adventures I have ever experienced in my life. Besides being an absolute blast, the beauty throughout the canyon was breathtaking, truly a majesty that could never be experienced from a car window. Our guides, Mike and Travis, were wonderful! They were superior rafters with a keen sense of the river, not to mention a whole lot of fun to spend the day with. Our entire group concurred that even though the river was a wild ride, we felt safe under the direction and guidance of the folks at Cheat River Outfitters.

The weather for our rafting trip was cold and rainy, and staying warm was a bit of a challenge.  (Don't let this deter you, this is when the rapids are at their best and from my perspective, as long as you dress properly, it is manageable.) I did learn a food related tip from our raft boat guide, Travis Cobb, that I thought was a great tip to share with readers. In the cold, your body burns up more food in order to keep warm. When we stopped for lunch, he suggested that we eat some of the peanut butter that was provided, since it’s high in fat it would help keep us warm. I looked it up after our trip to confirm that it was in fact true and found several articles confirming his advice. So the next time you’re preparing to go out in the cold, eat peanut butter (as long as you aren't allergic)!

It brought me much joy to share West Virginia with friends that I love this weekend. Our trip down the Cheat River was such a memorable day; we’re considering a trip to Fayetteville in September to experience another of West Virginia’s rafting rivers, the Gauley. Look for Jessica Schueler's upcoming article on white water rafting and the town of Fayetteville in WV Living’s Summer 2009 issue.  


Chef Hawkins Recipes:

Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup ramps, chopped
2 cups chopped raw spinach
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cooked cranberry beans
1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and ramps; sauté until soft. Add spinach and sauté, stirring, until wilted. Add broth, cooked beans, the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with freshly grated Romano Cheese if desired.

Simple Spring Salad

Ingredients:
Salad greens, washed and spun (or dried)
1 ½ oranges, (1/2 juiced, 1 segmented)
½ lemon, juice only
½ small red onion, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper
½ cup walnut halves, toasted
1/3 cup black olives (the wrinkly, oily ones), pitted

Directions:
In a medium bowl whisk together the juice of 1/2 orange, lemon juice, most of the red onion, olive oil, and salt. Whisk together until emulsified, taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed. Peel the remaining orange and cut into segments, removing any seeds you might encounter. Set aside.

When you're ready to serve, place the salad greens in a large bowl. Toss very gently with a generous splash of the dressing. Add the orange segments and walnuts. Give another toss. Taste and decide if you need to add more dressing, if needed, add a bit more at a time, giving a good toss between additions. Make sure the nuts and citrus haven't all gone to the bottom; help them back up to the top if needed. Serve salad topped with the remaining red onion and olives.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Special Delivery


Food has always been a vessel that allows my mind to travel to moments of comfort, happiness and love. The smell of gingerbread transports me to my grandmother’s living room where every afternoon around 1:00 she could be found sitting in her chair, dipping a gingersnap cookie into her tea. When I walk past an olive bar and see cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and dry provolone, I remember the first date I had with my husband. And when I eat fresh green beans, I remember the summer camp that I went to when I was nine years old. The camp organizers took us on a field trip to a farm where we were allowed to pick green beans off the vine and taste them. I remember my reaction vividly; I had had green beans before, but never as sweet, as flavorful, or as fresh! It is the summer I began to eat my vegetables.  

Today I received a very special delivery in the mail. This year is my very first as a shareholder in a CSA. CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, by becoming a shareholder of a CSA, you help support the costs associated in operating a farm as well as getting to enjoy the fruits of the farmers labor. This is my favorite part, notice I said the “farmers labor!”

The CSA that I joined is called Fish Hawk Acres and is located in Rock Cave, WV. I chose Fish Hawk Acres for three important reasons: 1) It is in West Virginia and I feel it is important to support local farms. 2) They deliver directly to my front door via UPS again, little effort on my part (yes, there is a pattern here). 3) The CSA comes with recipes prepared by Chef Dale Hawkins of Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, WV. For information on Fish Hawk Acres and other CSA’s in WV or local farmers markets visit http://www.wvfarm2u.org/.

I will be preparing the recipes provided by Chef Hawkins with the produce that I get each week and posting the results and my commentary on WV Living Food. As you can see by the picture, my very first CSA box contained some beautiful produce with some exciting recipes. Stay tuned for my follow up posting to see how my Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps and Simple Spring Salad turn out. I’ll be enjoying it with a loaf of whole-wheat country sourdough bread that was included in the box from Jeff’s Bread’s in Renick, WV.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4th Street-Downtown Clarksburg

Today I headed to  Clarksburg to get my car serviced.  I decided to stick around and wait for it and by the time the technicians were done it was noon and I was hungry.    I had a coupon for 10% off of the service and when the gentleman at the dealership showed me my savings I immediately thought that I should reward my  frugality with lunch! Yes, sad but true, this is how my mind is programmed.  

I headed downtown to see what looked good and ran across a place aptly named "4th Street" on the corner of 4th Street and Traders Avenue.  I scoped out an empty parking spot and grabbed it.

The decor inside, although housed in an old brick building, was decidedly modern, utilizing contemporary light fixtures and art. Interestingly, there was still a warmth and sense of history maintained by the terra cotta walls, old tin ceiling, and crown moulding.

All the tables were full and the jazz music was muffled by the buzz of the lunch crowd which was a mixture of  ladies at lunch and business people.  I was actually pleased that the only table left was by the window, allowing me to watch the people walking by outside.

The lunch menu included appetizers, salads and sandwiches, all ranging in price from $8 to $13.

I opted for their "signature sandwich" called 4th Street (I thought I'd stick with the theme).  Their menu describes it as "thinly sliced Italian meats and provolone cheese baked on a crusty peasant roll, and topped with lettuce, tomato and onion tossed in our house vinaigrette,".  It was served in a basket and came with a side of potato salad, homemade potato chips and a pickle, all for $9.    The portion of the sandwich was large enough for me to pack up half of it to enjoy later.  For more information about 4th Street, check out their website at www.at4thstreet.com.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wet Your Whistle

This weekend I had the opportunity to try BranchWater, a bottled water tapped at  Minnehaha Springs in Pocahontas County, and I was really quite impressed.

At first, I have to admit,  I didn't quite get the hip flask design but when I saw my husband slip it into his back pocket while walking across the field to our son's soccer game, I had a big "aha" moment. It makes so much sense, and honestly, I was surprised one of the giant bottled water producers hadn't already thought of it. The bottle design alone is uncanny. It's sleek and compact and fits in a back or side pocket with ease. It seems great for a whole host of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, walking and even soccer games. Apparently I am not the only person who feels this way, the BranchWater folks just won a gold medal at the Berkley Springs International Water Competition for package design.

Package design is one thing, but how does it taste? Well, I don't hold a Ph.D. in water tasting (not even an undergrad) but I must say, as an everyday water drinking kind of gal, I thought it had a very crisp, refreshing and satisfying quality. Actually, I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering getting a water cooler for my kitchen so I can utilize their 5-gallon delivery service. I'm not suggesting you do the same, but if you are a bottled water drinker, you really must give BranchWater a try, you can order it online or find it at Hilton Garden Inn in Clarksburg, Adventures Edge in Morgantown, Tuscan Sun Spa in Snowshoe, and at the BranchWater location in Fairmont.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Got Ramps?

Today was an extremely exciting day for me. My husband and I had just gotten off of Exit 132 on I-79, otherwise known as the South Fairmont exit. We were traveling 250 North when suddenly, just before Muriale’s restaurant, a sign with the handwritten word RAMPS appeared. “Stop the car,” I shouted, like a woman possessed. He looked at me, confused. “Ramps,” I said. “They are selling ramps!!!”

Rewind a few months to a meeting with WV Living magazine editor and publisher, Nikki Bowman. We were discussing the editorial calendar for our Spring issue when she assigned me a story on ramps. “On what?” I had absolutely no idea what a ramp was, somewhere in my mind I was wondering how skateboarding had anything to do with West Virginia culture.

Check out my travel story on ramps in the heritage section of WV Living’s spring issue,  you’ll see that this appalachia newcomer became very well acquainted with the highly celebrated delicacy. Of course, since the story was written in the winter months, I had yet to have the opportunity to taste what these little stinkers were all about. So today, I brought home my treasure and got to work cleaning them.   Which by the way is no easy task. Once they were all nice and clean it was time to put my kitchen prowess to the test! I have to admit that I wasn't brave enough to eat the ramp as a main ingredient, so I decided to prepare them the way that had been most commonly suggested from the native West Virginian's I interviewed while writing the story; fried with a little bit of bacon and potatoes. Let me tell you, after my first bite, West Virginia owns a bigger piece of my heart.



Ramp Fried Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup ramps, coursley chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large boiled potatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks

Directions:
  • over medium heat, cook bacon until the fat begins to render
  • add ramps and cook over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes
  • add potatoes and cook until golden brown
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Tell us your favorite ramp recipe by posting a comment to WV Food or by emailing me at joy@wvlivingmagazine.com.