Sunday, November 24, 2013


Who knew the humble mushroom could inspire an entire city?

When touring the Brandywine River Valley in Pennsylvania, anyone with even a slight inclination towards the culinary arts would be compelled to visit Kennett Square, the “Mushroom Capital of the World.”

They say you can smell the mushrooms for miles.  Well, maybe I was downwind, but the historic town of Kennett Square certainly has a “shroomy” appeal.
The mushroom farms surrounding Kennett Square are rumored to produce over a million pounds of mushrooms a week.  In fact, half of the cultivated mushrooms sold in America are grown in and around Kennett Square. For a primer on how the mushroom mania got started, click here.

In order to preserve the integrity of the mushrooms, visits to the various farms are generally prohibited, but Kennett Square is renown for its annual mushroom festival that takes place each September.  If you miss the festival, don't worry.  As they say in Kennett Square, "shiitake happens."  

If you happen to visit at any other time of year, no walk through Kennett Square is complete without a visit to The Mushroom Cap – part gourmet food store, part boutique and part mushroom museum.   
Located at 114 W State Street in the heart of Kennett Square, it’s the ultimate celebration of the shroom.  
In fact, a waiter at a local restaurant told us it’s the only place you can actually buy fresh mushrooms in the Mushroom Capital of the World.   But, there is so much more, including Mushroom crockery…
Mushroom sculpture…
Mushroom artifacts…
Mushroom trivia…
Mushroom linens….
Mushroom lore…
And, Snack N Shrooms, a chewy, dried mushroom chip that is deliciously addicting…
After you’ve satisfied your craving for all kinds of mushroom minutia, cap off the morning and cross the street for a little nosh at Portabello’s Restaurant.  
The portabello flatbread with Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinegar is earthy and divine.
The luscious State Street Mushroom Soup is spiked with roasted mushrooms, toasted shallots and Madeira wine – a silky delight!  
©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Great Pommes and Pumpkins

If you’re starting to dream about your Thanksgiving pies, here’s a little inspiration: 

For more apple goodness, meet the owner of the Jericho Cider Mill, and learn about the preservation of a heritage apple orchard at Edible Long Island.

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Carrot Cake Jam From the Field to the Jar

I once had a friend who believed that carrot cake was an acceptable choice on any diet, since technically it is a vegetable.  I’m not sure Carrot Cake Jam exactly qualifies as a vegetable, but what goes into the jar was harvested in the field and it sure tastes a lot like the cake after which it is named.  

The final pickup of the 2013 season at Restoration Farm features crisp, sunny carrots that sparkle in the morning light. The splash of bright orange color immediately catches the eye.  
Root vegetables personify the heartiest traits of the farm, drawing their earthy flavor directly from the elements of soil and water that comprises the land.  
Perhaps it is my need to extend the season that prompts me to – once again – organize a weekend canning project. This recipe for Carrot Cake Jam intrigues me.  The jam evokes tradition, and the flavors of Carrot Cake a touch of nouveau cuisine. 

Grated carrots, chopped pears and canned pineapple are simmered with sugar, pectin and warm autumn seasonings – cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  I’ll be able to enjoy the sweet carrots of Restoration Farm for some time to come.  
By now, my canning skills are practically instinctive, which was a goal of mine for the season. Once hesitant to tackle home preserving, it now comes quite naturally.  
Here’s the rub with jam.  You actually can’t sample the fruit of your labor until the job is complete – the jam is just too hot.   But, the aroma is rich and inviting, and a pretty clear indicator of success.  
The delectable spread packed into the jars is chunky and sweet, and the house indeed smells like warm Carrot Cake is baking in the oven. 
A slice of homemade bread spread with cream cheese and Carrot Cake Jam on a bracing autumn afternoon will assure that the flavors and textures of Restoration Farm continue to delight the senses. 
©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Measure of a Season at Restoration Farm

How does one measure a season at Restoration Farm?  As the 2013 growing season comes to a close, I reflect on the months that have passed.  Do the variety of vegetables, the abundance of the yield, or the finicky nature of the weather determine the worth of a harvest and the character of a growing season?  Or is it something more?
Is it the bushels of crunchy broccoli that come off the field late in the season, and literally glisten in the morning sun?
Is it the endless abundance of juicy heirloom tomatoes that delighted us well into the weeks of autumn?

Is it the wet fields that struggled to produce?

Perhaps it’s the hundreds of tiny seeds planted early in the year, that yield miraculous results?  

Is it the burgeoning flock of heritage chickens?
Or, the number of additional inches the youthful apple trees grew in stature at Apple Trace?
Perhaps it’s the distinctive Long Island Cheese Pumpkins that add a festive glow to autumn?
Or the pounds of potatoes harvested?
Was it the fact that the kale crop struggled?  

Maybe it’s the chunks of loamy soil that sustain the rows of plants?
Or, the tender lettuce that dresses so many salads?
Most certainly, it is the smiles of members, and the lively conversations that punctuate a morning distribution of vegetables.  It’s the nourishment the farm provides to body, soul and community.  
And, it’s the unshakable feeling that no matter where you might roam, you can always come home to Restoration Farm.   
As this chapter concludes, there are already signs of new stories and new seasons to come. The foundation is poured for a permanent farm support building that will take the place of the venerable outdoor distribution tent.    The building will be constructed during the winter months and feature a produce cooler, a farm office, and a covered patio for the farm stand and vegetable distributions.  
And, so we turn the page and wait with anticipation for the cycle to begin again.  
©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved