Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!  I always look forward to the leftover turkey just so I can make this soup.  It is one of my favorites and very easy to make.  It's a real comfort food and perfect for the weekend after Thanksgiving when you may be out shopping all day or just lounging around (like me!).

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
adapted from
Serves 6

3 T butter or ghee (for dairy free)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
8 oz mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T all-purpose or gluten-free flour (I used white rice flour)
4-5 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 T soy sauce or coconut aminos (for soy/gluten free)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup wild rice
2 1/2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken), chopped
1/4 cup cream or half and half (omit for dairy-free)
1 T chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.  In a large pot, melt the butter and oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the vegetable are soft, about 10 minutes.
2.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook 5 minutes more.
3.  Add the flour and cook while stirring about 3-4 minutes.
4.  Stir in the stock, soy sauce, and bay leaf. and simmer for 30 minutes.
5.  Add the wild rice and simmer for 35 minutes.
6.  Add turkey, cream, thyme, salt and pepper and simmer another 20 minutes.  Add more stock or water to thin as needed.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Local Sources for Sustainable Foods near Sewickley, PA

Eating seasonally and locally is a passion of mine and I strongly believe in supporting local farms.  I wanted to list some sources for local and sustainable foods that I have personal experience with so that you might try one or more of them.  

Some of these farms offer CSA's.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and here's the way it generally works:  You sign up in early Spring (Feb/March - that's right now!) to receive a box of seasonal vegetables every week for about 24 weeks between June and November.  They designate a pick up spot at a business near you or a fellow subscriber's home (garage).  You go to the pick up spot within a 4+ hour time window and transfer your veggies from the box into a bag.  The CSA is the best way to support your local farm.  They are able to get some funding they need up front and are guaranteed a steady customer base throughout the growing season.  And you get the freshest vegetables within a day or two of harvest and the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to sustain a farmer who believes in organic and/or responsible farming practices.

What do I do with all these vegetables??  It might take a while to get used to a vegetable subscription.  I consider it a fun challenge to figure out how to eat such an abundance of vegetables!  We all know that we should be eating more veggies for our health, and having a steady supply of vegetables makes it easier to do that.  And with the internet, it is easier than ever to figure out what to make with a vegetable you haven't tried before - and it keeps meals interesting!  The CSA's usually provide recipes and suggestions for using the items in that week's box and some even have pinterest boards to help you with serving ideas.  The CSA's deal with vacations in different ways, but they do have systems in place for week that you may need to miss.

If you have any suggestions of sources that I did not list, please leave a comment in the comments section and I will check it out!  Email me if you have any questions about any of the sources in this listing.  And don't forget to Eat Fresh and Eat Local!

Note: This list was updated on 1/6/19

Kretschmann Farm all-organic vegetable CSA,  fair trade coffee, local cheeses, chickens, mushrooms etc  Don and Becky are the kind and hardworking couple that run this all-organic farm in Rochester, PA (not far from Cranberry Twp).  Pick up weekly at a host house in Sewickley.  They have many delivery locations around Pittsburgh.  Extras like coffee (see Building New Hope below), cheeses, mushrooms, beef, and chickens are available to add on to your veggie subscription.  Subscribers also have the opportunity to buy certain items in larger quantities throughout the season as an add-on for preserving (if you can tomatoes, green beans, etc).
Penn's Corner Farm Alliance vegetable CSA, cheeses, beef, pork, holiday turkeys, eggs, flowers   The subscription box contains vegetables but also may include some cheese and items they preserve themselves like salsa, tomatoes, jams, dried beans, cornmeal or oatmeal. You can specify vegan or gluten free.  Items are sourced from several local sustainable/responsible farms which enables them to offer a variety of items.  You can subscribe weekly or bi-weekly for pickup at the YMCA in Sewickley on Wednesdays throughout the year.  They now offer an all-organic option which is supplied mostly by Clarion Organics farm cooperative.  Penn's Corner also has an online market where you can order items separately in the quantities you want and pick up in Pittsburgh at various locations.

Clarion River Organics all organic veggie CSA, beef, pork, and chicken subscriptions, turkeys - as of the 2019 growing season, Penn's Corner will be operating their CSA.  They will continue to offer pastured pork and organic beef shares which I highly recommend (best pork ever!).  You can also find some of their vegetables at Whole Foods - just look for their name on the produce sign.

Brenckle's Organic Farm and Greenhouse all organic vegetables, flowers, seedlings, pastured pork, CSA, farmer's markets  Brenckle's sells their produce at the St. James farmer's market in Sewickley and they also offer a CSA.   Produce is all organic and they grow a nice variety of produce.

Your Family Farmer - All organic meats, raw cow's and goat's milk, cheeses, eggs, fermented foods, honey and much more from this organic Amish family farm.  For Sewickley, place your order online every Monday for pick-up the following Thursday.  Delivery is at 1:45pm every Thursday in the parking lot of St James Catholic Church in Sewickley.   I have ordered raw milks, yogurts, beef sticks and jerky, raw cheeses, and kimchi - all have been excellent. to sign up for email order reminders (and interesting blog posts related to this adorable family and their farming practices).

Lewis Family Farm organic grass-fed Beef and pastured chickens located near Cranberry Twp, PA  They offer cuts of beef and whole chickens at various times for pick up at their farm to sign up for emails.

Morgus Family Farm fresh pastured chickens in season, frozen out of season  This is my close friend who lives in Butler.  Her two sons raise and process pastured chickens.  For customers in Sewickley, I personally take orders and distribute the chickens several times throughout the summer.  These are delicious super-fresh whole chickens that you can serve to your family within a day or two of when it was processed.  She freezes some for sale through the winter.  Email me to be put on my email distribution list.  I will contact you each time the chickens are ready to be processed (5-7 times throughout Summer and Fall, can be a bit sporadic - depends on the timing and growth of the chickens).  If you choose to order any, pickup is at my house in Sewickley.

Starr Valley Farm organic grass fed beef in bulk   This is a great family and they are our good friends of ours located in Leechburg, PA which is about an hour's drive from Sewickley.  The beef is organic and grass fed and pickup is at their beautiful farm.  I order 1/8 of a cow once a year.  It's great to see where the cows graze in this bucolic setting, so I don't mind the drive.  Supply is limited and you may have to get on a waiting list.

Brunton Dairy/Sewickley Confectionery milk, buttermilk, and more This milk is delicious - and comes in glass bottles - no plastic!  Sewickley Confectionery will deliver milk and other items every week and take your old bottles.   I leave a cooler outside the house for delivery.  Contact is Chris Bischel at Sewickley Confectionery at  or go to this link for a signup form. Whole Foods carries an organic milk in glass bottles if you prefer certified organic.  For raw milk, see Your Family Farmer above.

Alaska Wild Salmon Company wild salmon (several varieties), halibut, smoked salmon  While salmon is not a local food, this fisherman has local ties - his sister and her family live in Sewickley.  You can purchase the salmon at the Sewickley Farmers Market or order from the website below.   You can also get on their email list as they will sometimes take orders if they are unable to attend the market and will notify you if supplies are limited.  This is the most delicious and healthiest salmon you can buy!

Mill Creek Trout Farm smoked trout, frozen filets and whole trout from Utica,PA great quality low-toxin trout.  You find these at Sewickley Farm Market and other area Farmer's Markets.  724-301-3132

Building New Hope Coffee organic, single origin, fair-trade, roasted locally  This non-profit organization is operated out of Pittsburgh.  Profits go back to support the growers' community and help fund the education of the growers' children in Nicaragua.  You may order from BNH directly, or you may contact me at to be added to my email list.  I take orders monthly for distribution in Sewickley.  Penn's Corner and Kretschmann Farm also offer this coffee to CSA members.

Frankferd Farm Foods  natural foods warehouse - pantry items, grains, flours, cleaning products and much more! located near Saxonburg, PA

Thrive Market online site for discounted healthy foods, supplements and more; (requires membership)

Other resources: to find food sources and events near you local meat, eggs, and dairy sustainable seafood
Edible Earth Farm organic veggies, herbs, mushrooms, ginger, fruit, pork, chickens, and other locally sourced products located near Sandy Lake, PA
Big Horn Ranch Meats beef, chicken, pork, lamb, eggs located in Pittsfield, PA
Broadrun Dairy Farm organic grass fed dairy, cheese, beef, pork, poultry located in Beaver Falls, PA
Weatherbury Farm grass-fed beef, lamb, eggs located in Avella, PA

Monday, February 27, 2017

Homemade Piping Gel

Piping gel can be purchased in any cake supply or craft store, but it's easy and less expensive to make your own.  Piping gel comes in very handy when decorating a cake that does not have any leftover buttercream for writing, and it can piped on the surface of a cake frosted with a whipped cream icing, such as this strawberries and cream cake.

Uses for piping gel include:
1.  Writing on cakes - thin with water to desired consistency
2.  Stabilizing whipped cream - add 1 tablespoon at the end of whipping for every cup of whipping cream used
3.  Cake decorating when a representation of water is needed (dyed blue to resemble the water in a pool, lake etc)
4.  Edible "glue" for decorations on cakes.  It doesn't dry too quickly which allows for placement adjustment
5.  Adding sheen to fondant decorations

Piping Gel
from Craftsy blog 
Yields 1 cup

  • 1/4-cup cold water
  • 1/4-cup corn starch
  • 1/2-cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp clear flavor extract (optional)
  • Gel food coloring (optional)

Combine the cold water and corn starch in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup.

Heat until thickened.   Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before adding flavoring or color.

If the piping gel becomes too thick, add a tiny amount of water until you achieve your desired consistency. Store piping gel refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three months.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup
adapted from The Nourished Kitchen
Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 pound mixed mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, chanterelle, cremini etc), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced, optional
2 teaspoons finely ground unrefined sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
3 cups chicken bone broth
2 tablespoons sherry
1 cup heavy cream, or less, to taste
pinch ground cayenne pepper, to taste

Melt the butter, add the shallots and thyme, and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until mushrooms are tender and any extra liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the broth and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a stand blender until smooth.  Stir in the sherry and heavy cream and taste for seasoning, adding cayenne pepper, if desired.  Garnish with chopped fresh thyme, fresh sprouts, or a drizzle of pesto.


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