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Monday, May 18, 2020

Home on the Range: Magical Cocoabean Cupcakes

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2020 at 10:29 AM

Nancy Cain's Cocoabean Cupcakes - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Nancy Cain's Cocoabean Cupcakes
I cannot count the number of times I've made these cupcakes over the last five years since their creator, Nancy Cain, told me it was the single recipe in her then-new cookbook I should try if I only tried one.

I will admit I was skeptical. Not only were they gluten-free, as was everything in Cain's cookbook, Against the Grain: Extraordinary Gluten-Free Recipes Made from Real, All-Natural Ingredients, but I had  recently experienced full-on disaster with another baking recipe (not Cain's) featuring the same gluten-replacing ingredient.

But I had promised I would give them a try, and when I did I was floored. With just six simple ingredients that many people will have on hand (even in a pandemic), this is the best and easiest chocolate cupcake recipe I've ever baked.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Sharp Increase in Reported Poisonings From Ramp Look-Alike

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 8:01 PM

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) harvested in late April (not be used for ID purposes) - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Ramps (Allium tricoccum) harvested in late April (not be used for ID purposes)
Reported cases of serious illness due to people mistaking highly poisonous false hellebore (Veratrum viride) for a prized wild edible, ramps (Allium tricoccum), have more than doubled in Vermont over last year's number: to 22 so far, according to Dr. Karen Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center.

"It makes you wonder: Are people just having more time on their hands, or are they going back to nature because of all the things that are happening?" Simone said. "It's hard to know, but it's definitely a big increase."

The Poison Center, based in Portland, Maine, serves Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire; it typically receives from zero to eight reports of false hellebore poisoning per year across all three states. The total number of cases to date is 25. All but three of those have been reported in Vermont, mostly in May. 

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Home on the Range: Brighter Days Sangria

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 2:30 PM


Brighter Days Sangria - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Brighter Days Sangria
Last week, we asked Emily Morton, general manager of Deli 126, if she could whip up a cocktail recipe for a front porch or backyard hangout — something to drink at home with the arrival, at last, of warm weather.

Our request happened to coincide with a phone call that Morton got from her parents in Williston.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Vermont Organizations Land Contracts for USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2020 at 1:34 PM

Vermont National Guard members and MREs on May 1 in South Hero - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Vermont National Guard members and MREs on May 1 in South Hero
After landing a $5.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture contract for the new Farmers to Families Food Box Program, the Abbey Group — a family-owned food service management company in Enosburg Falls — had just one week to pull together the first 1,000 food boxes.

The initial batch of boxes, filled with regional dairy,  precooked chicken and fresh produce, will be distributed in Barre on May 15 by the Vermont National Guard along with MREs (meals, ready to eat), a separate federal program. From then through at least June 30, boxes will be distributed weekdays in different locations around the state.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Restaurants Launch Petition Seeking Community Support

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 5:28 PM

Honey Road restaurant in Burlington - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Honey Road restaurant in Burlington
Local restaurateurs are circulating an online petition that asks Vermonters to help "save Vermont restaurants.” Launched over the weekend, the petition seeks support as the industry plans for reopening of dine-in service — at a date yet to be named — after its state-mandated closure on March 17 due to the coronavirus.

“We are here to let you know that the Vermont Restaurant Industry is in crisis and we need your support,” the petition reads. “Without easily accessible direct aid many restaurants will close permanently.”

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Home on the Range: Crispy Chicken Parmesan

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Crispy Chicken Parm - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Crispy Chicken Parm
Chicken Parmesan is one of those recipes I kind of take for granted. I don't make it much, but when I do I remember how good it can be. And it reminds me to think more positively about boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which I tend to dismiss for being bland and boring.

Too often, it disappoints with soggy chicken smothered under layers of tomato sauce and cheese. I owe this crispier, lighter version to a combination of suggestions from an old standby in my (ridiculously huge) cookbook collection, Italian Classics from the editors of Cook's Illustrated (Boston Common Press, 2002) and a recipe from the website Food52.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Vermont Dairy Farmers Give Away 4,000 Gallons of Milk

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2020 at 6:13 PM


Elle Purrier handing over a gallon of milk Friday in St. Albans - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Elle Purrier handing over a gallon of milk Friday in St. Albans
Two problems in Vermont — food insecurity and dairy surplus — converged Friday afternoon in a St. Albans parking lot, where Franklin County farmers gave away 2,500 gallons of milk to a steady stream of Vermonters.

“We come from a lot of generations of dairy farmers up here in Franklin County, and we love our community so much,” said Meghan St. Pierre, 26, of  Pleasant Valley Farms. “A lot of folks are struggling right now.”

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

King's Corner Deli Owner Plans Pop-Up Breakfast Event

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2020 at 11:31 AM

Kat Donahue (left) and Erin Malone - COURTESY OF KAT DONAHUE
  • Courtesy of Kat Donahue
  • Kat Donahue (left) and Erin Malone
King’s Corner Deli is back — for one day only.

Kat Donahue, the owner of the beloved, now-closed Queen City corner store, will be dishing out her famous breakfast sandwiches from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Momo’s Market on North Willard Street in Burlington's Old North End.

Donahue came up with the idea for a pop-up event after spotting a homemade sign that said “Things will get better, we’re in this together,” in front of a house near her old shop, which closed in December 2018.

“I just wanted to do something that might make people feel a little more hopeful, inspired and comforted,” Donahue said.

Now working as an autism interventionist in the Howard Center’s Autism Spectrum Program, Donahue contacted Momo’s owner Erin Malone last month to float the idea about a pop-up event. The two women opened their stores within months of each other (Donahue in 2014, Malone in 2015), quickly connected and instantly clicked.

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Williston Cookbook Author Earns Another James Beard Nod

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2020 at 8:20 AM

Bowl of soup and James Beard finalist cookbook by Molly Stevens - DARIA BISHOP
  • Daria Bishop
  • Bowl of soup and James Beard finalist cookbook by Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens, the award-winning, Williston-based cooking instructor, food writer and cookbook author, just earned a prestigious James Beard Foundation finalist nomination for her most recent book, All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice (W.W. Norton, 2019).

Stevens is one of three finalists in the general cookbook category alongside part-time Vermonter Christopher Kimball and his book Milk Street: The New Rules: Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook (Voracious, 2019).

Previously announced semifinalists in James Beard Foundation's annual Restaurant and Chef Awards — Cara Chigazola Tobin, chef and co-owner of Honey Road in Burlington, and winemaker Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista Farm + Winery in Barnard — did not advance to the finalist round.

Winners will be announced May 27.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Master Gardeners Help Food-Insecure Vermonters Plant Victory Gardens

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2020 at 3:38 PM

Garden harvest - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Garden harvest
Millions of Americans planted victory gardens at the government's urging during World War II, hoping to provide an abundant source of fresh vegetables during a time of food scarcity. Nearly a third were new gardeners, and the harvests had varying levels of success.

"Many people didn't replant a garden the second year, because they failed in the first year," Gordon Clark told Seven Days. Clark is a University of Vermont Extension master gardener, and he's learning from history to ensure that the coronavirus-era gardening boom sticks around.

Clark is spearheading the statewide Vermont Victory Gardens program, which uses the expertise of master gardeners to help Vermonters impacted by food insecurity grow more of their own food.

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