saucy. is a chronicle of (mostly) delicious adventures involving: farming, love, art, seasons, dirt, dinner, weddings, and D.I.Y-ing

saucy. is a celebration of creative, fresh food, ideally of the local and organic persuasion - inspired by globetrotting and created by me at Bliss Ridge; our farm in Vermont.

saucy. hopes to inspire YOU to live deliciously and creatively...

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BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE & SALTED CARAMEL CAKE! (the most delicious cake ever)






• CHICKEN LIVER PATÉ (the recipe that transforms haters)


STAND-UP BACON! (the bacon-centric hors d'oeuvre for bacon purists)























GO-TO (chocolate) GANACHE



CRANBERRY GELÉE (fancy topping for cakes, trifles, puddings)








MAJESTIC MAPLE GELATO (like ice cream, but better!)

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jorDan von Trapp


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    "LOVING" (organic chicken) LIVER (an enlightening and slightly evangelical revelation)

    Last night we had filet mignon (thank you Skippy)

    not a bad glamour shot 'eh Skip?

    (Skippy is was ((sorry is this morbid or offensive to vegetarians!?)) one of our grass-fed "ambiance" cows)

    continuing... over celeriac-kohlrabi purée, drizzled with shallot & balsamic reduction, aside roasted rutabega and seared savoy cabbage with vinho verde reduction and fresh rosemary. All from the garden of course (sometimes I forget to remember to clarify that nearly everything we eat around here comes from here ((no I don't have any sugarcane... and we don't make our own whiskey...yet... but maple trees' elixir is more delicious than tropical sugarcane anyway)).

    This post is NOT about that dinner. Or sugar. Or whiskey. We will talk more about Skippy next time...

    And okay, "love" is a strong word to place beside "liver"...  

    I try to reserve it for him


    (he entertains my "eclectic" ideas with enthusiasm...)

    (and ganoshes everything I make, with enthusiasm)


    I'm not just throwing out that whole love disclaimer because I am referring to liver, quite possibly the food item with the worst connotation of all (beige and non-beige) food items in history.

    You know, while we're on the subject I do think the l-o-v-e word gets WAY overused. That is a whole different subject but in short, my personal belief is that it gets thrown around way too loosely. I used to say it all the time: "oh I 'love' summertime, oh I 'love' cheese that smells like feet, oh I 'love' Eddie Vedder, oh I 'love' yada yada yada.  I even "loved" Phish. I personally had no idea how drastically overused it was until I found out what L-O-V-E really was, when I met my soulmate –

    Oh yeah I had it all figured out at the ripe old age of 14... Just call me Doogie Howser.


    or rather – 14 years later, when WHAM, that whole "soulmate" word acquired the status of reality...

    BUT wait, how did I get here, what is the link between soulmates and liver? I'll tell you one thing, this me off-on-a-tangent-again business can probably be attributed to the fact that I did not eat my paté for brekkie... If I had, I would've gotten enough vitamin B12 to combat any trace of that pesky old attention deficit disorder... In all seriousness, in my research I have come across dozens of claims that liver is gram-for-gram the world's healthiest food. How can that be I wondered, isn't one's liver the "oil filter" of the body ie: filtering the toxins from the environment... Well, provided you have an organic source of liver:

    (this creature didn't have a name or a personality, for those of you who were offended by the "Skippy" bit)

    These guys lived (for nine weeks) here at Bliss Ridge. I think it was a pretty good run (we'll cover the slaughter experience another time). They ate grass and bugs and organic Vermont grain. They didn't drink. Not even occasionally. For this reason I found it necessary to add whiskey to the paté.

    Anyway, now that I've waxed on about the health benefits of liver you are still wondering how in pray-tell am I going to ratify my simultaneous devotion to deliciousness, allergy to beige and dedication to this unfortunate looking condiment.

    Especially given my early history...

    Liver and I did not get off to a favorable start. It was actually a rather tragic beginning, and precisely the moment when I learned to shut off my taste buds without actually holding my nose closed with my fingers. I was 15 years old and in France for the first time.  I was seated between two men with impressive moustaches.  People still had big hair in 1996.  It was a tight squeeze at the table and I remember the strong scent of cologne, mixed with salty air.  We were in St. Tropez and I thought I "loved" Rosé. I even "loved" frog's legs. Everything was going rather well; I was understanding the conversation with my ambitious ear and nominal language skills... when all of the sudden the corners of the moustache on my left skyrocketed. The paté course had arrived and the mood had dramatically escalated in the direction of sheer glee. An entire course devoted to a sickly looking beige square, featuring an artful attempt at concealment by a lofty stack of haricots-verts. Not only is the color of liver and all things liver-centric, unfortunate, but the flavor, when un-enhanced, has unmistakeable dirt undertones. Yes, of course I've tasted dirt. I do this on a regular basis

    Previous to that memorable dinner I had been under the impression that the majority of people regarded "livah" with less enthusiasm than say shoveling sh*t (that is another chapter entirely but we'll get to it).  I was clearly wrong. And caught smack in the middle of a fervent liver-scarfing frenzy.  I muscled right into the pasty slice of beige with gusto.

    What a bad choice. I should've pretended I was allergic or vegetarian. (Ha, I doubt there is such a thing as a French vegetarian, or there certainly wasn't in 1996 anyway.) It was beyond horrendous but I was so petrified at the notion of being rude or classified as "Americaine", that I choked the entire putrid slice down. When in Rome... or rather, "when amongst maniacal moustached paté devotees..."

    (this photo was actually taken at a later moustache-centric meets broken french skills moment in life; not however involving fervent paté consumption)

    I did not eat paté for approximately 14 years following that one Tropezienne future-altering dinner.

    Now, after transforming into a liver evangelist, I can attribute many positive life incidences to this miraculous beige paste. It makes you smart and full of energy and you too will find out what that l-o-v-e word really means, if you eat my paté*

    *this statement is based on a personal incidence and has not been evaluated by the USDA

    Organic Chicken Liver Paté that changes haters

    1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

    3 cups (loosely packed) leeks or onions or shallots (or a combination of any of those)

    4 large cloves garlic

    1.5 lbs organic chicken livers

    2/3 cup decent red wine

    1 cup fresh sage leaves

    1 cup fresh parsley

    1 tbsp juniper berries

    1/2 tsp allspice

    2tbsp pink peppercorns

    2 tbsp black peppercorns

    2 tbsp green peppercorns (either dry or in brine) *note; if you are scared of spice, start with less pepper and add more to taste at the end

    fresh thyme (a few sprigs-worth)

    2 tbsp whiskey!

    2 tbsp salt (or to taste! I added more at the end)


    1. Melt stick of butter in a large saucepan or skillet at medium-low heat.

    2. Slice onions, leeks, shallots roughly, along with the garlic (remember it is all getting puréed, yes I know, there is nothing UN-weird about a meat purée but trust me on this one) and throw it all (3 cups alliums + 4 cloves garlic, in with the butter.

    3. After the onions are translucent and the kitchen smells delicious, crush the (1tbsp) juniper berries & all three colors of peppercorns (scant 6 tbsp total) a little (with mortar & pestle or you can put them all in a coffee grinder together and buzz until you have a coarse grind (a few seconds). Throw them in the pan.

    4. Add the 1.5 lbs livers, 1/2 tsp allspice and 2 tbsp salt and toss everything around. Sizzle sizzle.

    I attempted to disguise the weird rubbery shiny gelatinous matter that is liver...

    5. Cook this mixture for about three minutes, tossing very often.

    6. Add the wine. Toss and simmer on medium heat for about five more minutes. The liquid should reduce a bit. The livers will morph into an even uglier color. Ideally, you want them to be atrocious beige on the outside and atrocious pale pink on the inside, so slice into one to test.

    7. Once you have achieved that killer color-combo, stir in 2 tbsp of whiskey (scotch or bourbon or Irish whiskey = all are fabulous) and turn off the heat. Stir and let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. You should have very little liquid at this point. If you have more than approximately 2 tbsp, transfer the solids to the food-processor with a slotted spoon and reduce the liquid down to a tablespoon or two-ish by boiling over med-high heat.

    8. Turn the food processor on and add the 1 cup of fresh sage, 1 cup of fresh parsley and the thyme, (and the reduced liquid from the pan) and process for a long time.. ie: at least five want this stuff really smooth. Taste it and add salt accordingly. If it seems ultra smooth and you like the flavors, transfer to ramekins or jars, cover and refrigerate. If it isn't smooth enough yet, you can process for longer and/or add some more melted butter. Most patés have about twice the amount of butter as mine. I realllllly realllly like butter don't get me wrong, but when I was developing the recipe we happened to only have one stick at the house and it worked fabulously with the above ratios.

    I want to hear about your liver-loving transformations so holler at me!! xoJvT



    Cocoa-Spice-Chockie-Chip Molasses Cookies. And leaves. And Burliness.

    All of the sudden my peacefully slumbering horizontally shaped self was snatched up in one swift hoist and (gently) placed, vertically, on my own feet. Good Morning! Woah. At some point within that two-second sequence of seamless burliness, I was awake. And cold. And confused. It was 6:59 am. It was LATE! The sun was already up, what was I doing still sleeping!?

    When we arrived at the top of the next flight of stairs my husband did the same thing to the peacefully slumbering 85lb dog (except he slumbers in a donut shape with his ear conveniently covering his entire face)

    He's on steroids you know.

    Not the dog, the husband ...did I mention that? Then he tore into his toast with He-Man sensibility, picked up a case of drill bits, a rain coat, a coffee, a drill, some boots, and my newly vertical shaped self, for a kiss, and poof; he was off to milk the cows (more on that next time...)

    I was left here with these two. You know Wild Bill. And that is Eunice. I named her, fitting don't you think?

    Oh, the 'roids... you might be wondering why my man is on steroids... not just for the purposes of a heroic wake-up call, actually, he somehow got tangled up with poison ivy... and it is BAD. We coated him with vinegar and baking soda, we gave him cold salty oaty baths, we tried everything before it was unbearable. All he had to do was go to the drug store and lift up his shirt and the pharmacist was on the phone (behind a protective glass wall) and he was pumped up on Prednisone. I am a little worried. I won't include photos of the rash. No one wants to see a rash.

    How about this face instead:

    That's Ada. Also known as the image you see when you open the dictionary to "impossibly cute". Oh but she has a sister...

    And Eloise has a friend Alex...

    Cuteness meter is blowing up. And you haven't even seen the parents! or the dog-bro... Ok, before we get off subject... lets talk about the fact that Jess & Dustin (these girls' parents ((who were told by an Eastern European soothsayer of sorts that they would "need to buy a shotgun for the future"))) came over for dinner last night and brought a divine donut shaped cake. An applesauce cake with a perfectly sweet glaze. I don't have the recipe, yet. But I do have a ton of apples...

    from our little tree. So I also made something with applesauce.

    Around here, we don't mess around with some pansy paring knife when it comes to makin' sauce...

    Remember the steroids.

    Just kidding, just kidding, the key ingredient to these upcoming Autumnally delightful cookies, is not a subtle Eau d'Diesel or a hint of Husqvarna...

    These cookies do however contain some soul. and spice. and unexpected ingredients. and holy crap, looking at the ingredients...against my better judgment I think they must also be low-fat!? EW, forget I said that, don't be alarmed, they don't taste like your average sorry-excuse-for-a-cookie-diet-dessert, but with only 6 tbsp of butter for the whole batch (I don't know how many the batch yielded because I think I ate at least six when they came out of the oven and then we paired them with the applesauce cake and maple gelato last night... and there are still 13 in the jar and 'Roid-man probably tore into AT LEAST four before breakfast... I am estimating there were no fewer than 30 3-4inch diameter cookies in the batch. Daaa-ang, as Jess would say. And, the best part; they will take you a mere 30 mins to make, give or take, start-to-finish. If you don't have a He-man cookie monster type at home, just cut the recipe in half... or freeze some and take them out for Thanksgiving!

    So what are you waiting for! Get after it!

    Cocoa-Spice-Chockie-Chip Molasses Cookies

    2 1/4 cups flour

    1 tsp salt

    3/8 cup cocoa powder

    1.5 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp ground cloves

    3 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp ground allspice

    1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

    1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

    6 tbsp melted butter (3/4 of a stick)

    1.5 cups sugar (preferably raw)

    fresh grated ginger (a lot... approx. 3 tbsp micro-plane grated)

    3/8 cup applesauce

    3/8 cup molasses

    1 tbsp (approx) whiskey or vanilla extract or both

    1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

    extra sugar to roll the dough balls in

    optional: 1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

    **Remember, I am all about "winging it" and "substitutions" - I don't subscribe to the "oh no, baking is a science" mantra - if you don't have fresh ginger, use a teaspoon of ground ginger or if you don't have allspice, don't worry about it - just whatever you do, remember to TASTE THE BATTER - if it seems like it needs more spice then go for it. I also think a dash of cayenne pepper would be worth a try if you like spice...

    Preheat oven to 350.

    SIFT your dry ingredients (the first 9 ingredients) in a medium-size bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or another bowl if you are going to be old-school about it and use electric beaters or hand -run eggbeaters or a fork & some raw muscle power w/or w/out 'roids) combine: 6 tbsp melted butter with 1.5 cups sugar and beat until blended, then add your 3/8 cup applesauce, 3/8 cup molasses, grated ginger & whiskey/vanilla.

    you will have a nice soft dough that smells like autumn

    Then, pour some sugar on a plate. Take tablespoonfuls (or mini ice-cream scoopfuls) of dough and roll them in the sugar

    DONT WORRY - that is NOT the cookie you are making, that is a peanut butter cookie but I forgot to take a photo of the sugar-rolling process so wanted to illustrate it here. (the roll-in-sugar is what makes cookies have that lovely crackly crisp exterior)

    Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them on in the oven! After 5 minutes switch the trays - ie: take the tray that is currently on the lower of the two racks and switch places with the tray that is above it. Take the cookies out after 10 minutes - you might think that they aren't done yet but I bet they are... If you have a convection oven, I recommend checking them at 8 minutes...Then spatula them over to a cooling rack (or slide the parchment paper with the cookies over to the rack) and bust into one as soon as you can do so without burning yourself. I always burn myself but it is worth it. Actually it is also a good idea to have ready a steaming hot cup of chai or a shot of cold milk. or Bailey's on ice.

    If you do overcook them, which I have done before, not to worry again - just wait until they are cool then put a piece of non-stale bread into the (airtight) jar with the cookies. The moisture from the bread will transfer to the cookies and you will have stale bread and perfect cookies.

    (there is a slice of bread on the bottom and on the top)

    Voila' ! I think this is the perfect batch to whip up any old day, any old time of the day.

    Let me know how it goes! Oh - people keep asking me how to "comment" on a blog post - see the word "comment" below? It is not very obvious and I am going to some investigation on that front but I do appreciate your comments, if you are so inclined to leave a little two-second note :)



    Potato Galette, the unboring (fancy&versatile) potato-centric side 

    Now that it looks like this


    and all the "leafers" are about to roll through town... and the garden is a little less busy than it was in say July... (maybe thats b/c it started to rain all the time which naturally compells me to remember all the reasons that I don't have time to have nearly an acre's worth of gardens...) though it is far from "over" - we still have celeriac, rutabagas, carrots, kohlrabi, broccoli, kale, winter squashes, brussels, parsnips, leeks, even some peas...some huge savoy cabbages... a whole technicolor line-up of beets, broccoli...the garlic will get planted in a few weeks... woah, now that I am writing this, I am beginning to panic - I haven't been out there for a week and I am having nightmarish imagery of waist-high weeds taking over...

    The most fun part of harvesting (digging up the potatoes) is done -- all of the potatoes are dug and in the basement...

    So it might be time to start reliving summer?

    ...oh those radishes... but no, we'll wait until the depths of November to vicariously re-live the fleeting firefly and mojito moJOJO infused summertime season...

    Right now it is time for me to get my act together and post at least a photo, if not a recipe and a photo, every day. Seriously.

    How about that for today? This is what you get when you put the camera in panorama mode and snap a pic of a four-year-old running toward you and then notice how killer the sky looks and tell aforementioned (jumping) four-year-old to check it out, right as you attempt to snap the middle pic of your panorama! They move quick, those little nippers! And they say "Auntie Jojo isn't this sunRISE is amazin'!" And I think to myself yes indeed! This "sunRISE" with prosecco and best friends and fresh clams over a fire and a boatride sure is much more amazing than the average 2x per week 5am-husband wakes-up-to-go-milk-cows-and-I-feel-way-too-guilty-to-stay-in-bed-so-I-shuffle-down-to-the kitchen-and-sink-myself-into-my-maple-syruped-coffee "sunRISE"...

    That was last weekend on the cape. We dug some serious clams and reeled in some beauty bluefish. Four-year-olds also like raw clams, did you know? (I think they probably also like rubberbands dipped in salt water...)

    We roasted some over the fire and then steamed some others and made a killer coconut-lemon-sweet-hot dipping sauce. The sauce was the boss that weekend - we also threw together some parsley-fied aioli with a formidable quantity of garlic and poured it over the fresh bluefish and roasted it on a bed of leeks. It was nothing short of sublime, took all of 10 minutes to throw together and I have wanted to repeat that dinner every night since. In a bind, fresh out of prosecco...or wine or anything else, Budweiser even got a second chance that night and in a little tiny glass accompanied by all of that freshness, I no longer regarded it as the worst beer ever, I rather enjoyed my 2 ounces.

    But we don't live by the sea.

    That's for sure. So, rather than clams, we dig potatoes. Did I mention that I really really really like digging? I like digging ditches... I got a little carried away a couple years ago...

    And decided all of the gardens (nearly a whole acre total) would need to be transformed into raised beds... and I proceeded to dig trenches throughout (see above, the woodchips are sitting in the trenches) creating an "English gahhhden"-style layout with a round center (though the Brits would have DEFINITELY utilized strict and exacting measurement standards...whereas I am not a Brit but rather an eye-baller and used my feet as measurement tools.) And then... my nickname became "Herc" and I went further and planted way too many potatoes, more for the fun of digging them up, rather than actually eating them because they are sort of boring for my taste... (however we will change that with the upcoming recipe!) But then I discovered a much better way to plant them... that does not actually involve digging, which means:

    a) you have a much lower chance of suffering pitchfork casualties... which we won't go in to...

    b) less work

    c) no potatoes left behind

    d) they look better! (well in my experiment anyhow) ie: less "scabby" (EW, horrendous word) exteriors

    So it looks like I am going to have to find something else to dig because I am throwing in the towel on the traditional way to plant potatoes (ie: the "trench" method)

     The "new way" goes like this:

    prepare garden bed ie: loosen up the soil gently with a pitchfork or a broadfork, then take your potato seed (pieces of cut-up organic potatoes with at least one "eye") and plant about an inch into the soil. Cover with soil (just a wee bit) then pile at least eight inches of mulch on top (leaves, hay, straw). Water everything well. As the potato seedlings emerge, keep adding mulch around them. When the green bits die, it is time to harvest! All you have to do is pick up the mulch layer and voila'! you will see beautiful potatoes sitting there. Collect them. Then make this:

    That is a good idea for many reasons, among them: it is easy, efficient, fancy, versatile and most importantly, there are SO many cooler things you can do with potatoes aside from mashing them (I think mashed potatoes are lame, which doesn't mean you are lame if you like them, I'm just being honest)

    So if you don't have one of these awesome (as long as you remember to USE the finger guard and not lose the finger) slicer units or a fancy-schmancy mandoline (which you might be a lot more likely to lose the finger with...) then an old fashioned knife will do just fine. The thinner you slice the 'tato the better though.

    The 1/3-eaten galette pictured above, was probably the simplest one I have ever made - just potatoes, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and a little parsley. That is because it was the middle of winter and Wild Bill the infamous duck-who-thinks-he-is-a-cow had already hammered through the kale plantation and there wasn't a leaf of sage to contemplate... Today, I am going to make a purple potato & sage galette... and I'll talk about 15 other ways to galette-ize your dinner...

    Purple Potato & Sage Galette (with or without kale...or any other accoutrement you wish to add!!)

    2 lbs potatoes (I do not like the color purple but I think purple potatoes are cool but you can use any color!)

    6 tbsp butter (ish), melted

    Salt, black pepper(about 2 tsp of each..but TASTE and adjust to your palette)

    Fresh sage (or rosemary) leaves (about 3 teaspoons if you are the measuring type ;)

    **Kale option - about 1lb of kale leaves (not including the tough ribs and stems) chopped roughly & sautéed in about 2 tbsp butter with a generous amount of garlic (4-5 cloves) until tender

    1. Peel potatoes if they have ugly exteriors, or leave the skin on if they look good.

    2. Place a 10 or 12 inch cast-iron skillet on your stove top and brush bottom & sides with melted butter to coat nicely.

    3. Using your cool slicer unit or an old fashioned sharp knife, slice the potatoes as thin as you can - we're talking paper-thin

    4. Start arranging your slices in the skillet - I start from the center, as this layer will eventually be the top of your galette

    5. Continue fanning out your potato slices to the edge of your skillet.

    Lookin' pretty sweet I think...

    6. Dab a bit of evenly spaced butter strategically on top of layer 1 and sprinke with salt and pepper and herbs. (If you are doing kale, this is when you take 1/2 of your tender sautéed kale and layer it on top of the potatoes.)

    7. Repeat steps 4-5, creating layer two of lovely concentric potato slices.

    8. Press the galette down with a spatula and sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs and then spread the rest of the kale on top if you are doing kale.

    9. Repeat with the third layer of potatoes.

    10. Turn on heat to to medium-low and cook for about 30-40 mins, making sure that the bottom doesn't burn

    11. Invert galette onto flat plate (you are bound to have a plate that will fit right on top of the galette, inside the skillet and with an oven mitt on and a quick flick of the wrist, flip the skillet onto the plate and then slide the galette back into the skillet, uncooked side down and brown for another 10-15 mins.

    12. If you like the way your current top layer looks then garnish with some fresh herbs (crispy sage leaves would be nice or just some fresh parsley as I did below... If you have a sneaking suspicion that the other side of your galette might look better, execute your new flip trick again and check out the more recently browned side and decorate that one.

    This is a SIMPLE simple dish, yet elegant and quite delicious. Serve a wedge for breakfast with a poached egg balancing on top and garnish with chives and sour cream... or better yet add a bit of caviar...

    And of course, as all of my fave dishes are, this one is incredibly versatile - you could replace the kale with some thinly sliced butternut squash... oh, and another bonus is that it is even good at room temp.


    Please let me know if you try it or what you think or what you want to hear about...and when you want to start "re-living" summer...




    Where the magic happens. And the most delicious (our wedding) CAKE ever!!! 

    Here is my attempt at creating a "garden panorama" so you can have a little look at where the magic happens.

    (Well... that is one of the magic-conjuring locations around these parts ((note: by "magic" in this context I mean BIG beautiful food showing up out of the dirt and kids and big people hopefully realizing that the answer to the question "where does dinner come from?" can be "the garden!!" rather than "the grocery store"... (no joke, I have heard that quote many a time)

    So that discombobulated panorama is the top garden... there is a lower garden who supplies those monster blackberries and a lot of other purple food like Peruvian potatoes and purple kohlrabi and exotic stuff like salsify!! woah we'll get to that later) ANYWAY that montage ... I've been googling and cropping and nipping and did I mention I have no patience...its not very straight. It doesn't highlight the details very well... If I was only the sort of person who could just concentrate on one thing and actually sit down and read say a book about "how to make a photo montage in Adobe lightroom" or maybe there is one on "how to remember to measure your ingredients so you can write recipes that actually list amounts of ingredients"....

    but things like this happen when I am trying to concentrate on one (or eight) things at once...

    And I run outside going wowieWOWIEwowieWOWWW and I snap snip snap photo after photo and then my (incredibly focused, non-multitasking thank goodness for him) husband grabs his cool red pentax and implements his amazing panorama-cizing skills and voila'! That is a DvT original. 

    And then I am outside and I realize (a) it has stopped raining and (b) the lack of attention to aforementioned magic-happening locale for the past month is inexcusable. So I prance up to the thicket and 


    oh my !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Remember back in deep dark February when I started those dear little seeds!!??

    Well hallelujah it is about time I see some results. Or wait, how about "thanks Mo' Nature, you really came through". Thats better. I am ecstatic for the impending artichoke dinner. Unfortunately not many people will be invited because I don't see too many of these badboys kicking around - though there are three on this one plant! jump-jump-jump!!! ...will report back later. 

    A typical day would involve me going back inside to find that I left a half of a giant bag-full of beans sitting on the counter in mid-pickling process...

    big bag o' beans. Then I would probably get a phone call or three, answer some emails, google something like "why have I had a sinus headache for two weeks straight, I feel like someone is squeezing my head and lifting me up by my neck" and there might be a result. Then I would think wow, there is someone else like me out there, then I'd remember about the pickles and remember that I don't actually like pickling (patience issue) because it takes so much time and that is something I dream about... spare time to pickle... wait, if I had spare time to pickle, I'd probably make a cake... which brings me to the list of cakes that I want to invent this month (or re-create and remember to m-e-a-s-u-r-e so I can share the recipes...) such as that Bruléed pineapple & yogurt cake accompanied by brown sugar & cayenne spiced walnut ice cream...  THEN I would remember the site of this in the freezer....

    which makes me think of this

    And the fact that we finally get (got to) eat our wedding cake!!! 

    I have heard horror stories of much anticipated first anniversaries punctuated by disappointing dried out crumbs... but I was hopeful... that cake was the most delicious cake ever... well a year ago it was anyway... and okay, maybe we are a little biased... 

    ©Faye Murphy

    It could also have been the amazing team effort that made it so incredible... Our rockstar pastry-chef friend Chris came over a couple days before the wedding and got to work on ganache-ing and assembly...

    ©J.C. McIlwaine 

    (this was taken after the ganache extravaganza, at the wedding) 

    He took the cake layers that I baked in July, out of the freezer and got to work with the salted caramel sauce I had put together the week before and made a veritable vat of velveteen ganache. ganache ganache ganache. I love that word.

    Our cousin Emily the floral wizardress brought over those outrageously perfect bouganvillias (yes they are real AND you can eat them!) 

    (pictured here collecting cool, lengthy serpentine-y grasses that later were incorporated into the most stunning flower arrangements I have ever seen...and I'll tell you what, I've seen some arrangements)

    My lovely bridesmaid Samantha stopped over to my (awesome pastry chef) friend Annie's yard in Atlanta where she has a bay leaf tree (!!) and harvested some boughs, put them in her suitcase and jumped on a plane, met up with dear Katie, the girls found those gorgeous pears en route from the Cape and then  crystallized them with paint brushes on Friday morning!! 

    Before such dainty and edible work could ensue, mind you, there were some necessary de-dirtifyng rituals to attend to...


    We had to get serious (some of you may be familiar with the state of a farmers foot in late August...) and Samantha found just the secret weapon for the job

    So there you have the deconstruction of our wedding cake.

    And if you hadn't before pondered the connection between gojo and wedding cakes, maybe you learned a little something new today. 

    OK OK the other reasons why this cake is so off-the-chain delicious, is because it marries sweet and salty. I think sweet and salty are a match made in heaven... woah, with reference to food that is, not humans, I don't think. It is important to note however, that even if you are not a fan of the opposite flavors combinination trend, this cake is not actually salty in the 'ewww I added salt rather than sugar to my coffee' sense...   

    So last July when I saw a few inspiring cakes by Martha, and consulted Annie, the same (cool as can be, sweetheart & badass pastry chef) gal who has the bayleaf tree in her yard, suggested I have a look at the "Sweet & Salty Cake" recipe from the bakery "Baked" in Brooklyn... 

    I was SOLD. And I still am. Our anniversary was last Sunday, August 21

    (we found a treehouse on an island in Lake Champlain)

    and we just polished off the last crumb this morning...a week later... you see our top layer was extra tall (one of my more clever ideas) and the thing never dried out.

    Actually, contrarily, it was the most-moist perfect crumb-ed creation... perhaps that is thanks to Chris' protective forcefield in the form of a silky triple-wall ganache so to speak... 

    I know, I know, maybe this doesn't qualify under my usual insistance on fresh food... but some traditions are worth implementing... Like calling your bride's parents to ask permission to get down on one knee for example... (a brilliant way to ensure perpetual impressed-ness of the 'rents)

    OK the RECIPE! This baby has three parts - the cake, the SAUCE, and the ganache. The recipe which inspired this cake uses a whipped caramel ganache but we opted for a darker, richer, silkier ganache for ours...


    ©J.C. McIlwaine 

    And we obviously had loads of experience cutting wedding cakes, hahahaha... I think we are declaring that that top best make to a safe place...

    (8in. x 3in. layer version of) Jojo & Vonny's bittersweet chocolate & salted caramel wedding cake (Inspired by Baked bakery's Sweet & Salty Cake)

    • 3/4 cup cocoa powder ( I used the best stuff I could find... worth it - but a forewarning - cocoa must be a hot commodity these days because the nice ones are $$$)
    • 2/3 cup sour cream
    • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 3.5 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt (I use Sel Gris, my fave!)
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (YIKES right!? who uses that yucky stuff anymore... I found this non hydrogenated, organic palm oil version at the health-food store - next time I am going to try coconut oil)
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I use raw organic)
    • 1 cup dark brown sugar 
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tbsp pure vanilla 
    • 1 tbsp whiskey!
    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter three 8x2in round cake pans (your normal cake rounds - or you could use any shape you want!! - this chart will help you figure out how much batter to use for your choice of pans) Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter and flour the parchment. Note - you can just wing it without parchment if you are not as concerned about perfect edges...

    2. Whisk together the 3/4 cup cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and the sour cream and set aside to cool.

    3. In another large bowl, sift together 2 2/3 cups flour, 3.5 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.

    4. Beat the 1.5 sticks butter and 1/2 cup shortening together until very smooth, about 6 mins (use electric mixer w/ paddle if you have it!) While the mixer is on low, add 1.5 cups sugar and 1 cup brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 7 mins. Add 3 large eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add 1 tbsp vanilla & 1 tbsp whiskey! (whiskey always deserves an exclamation point).  Stop the mixer and rubber spatulize (killer new word!) the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are incorporated, then beat again for 30 seconds. Begin to add the flour mixture - alternating with the cocoa mixture, until all of your batter is a luscious thick sea of rich darkness!

    5. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans. Bake about 20 mins - until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool completely - no exceptions.


    Salty Caramel (Adapted from Baked bakery - the only thing I changed was using Sel Gris instead of Fleur de sel - but I did make double the sauce and cooked the second batch for a longer time which resulted in an amazzzzing ooey-gooey caramel sauce that we heated up and poured over everything in sight until it ran out. Then our teeth were rotten and we spent way too much $ at the dentist. 

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I use Sel Gris again here)
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    1. Combine 1/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 tbsp corn syrup in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Position a candy thermometer and watch like a hawk until the mixture reaches 350 degrees (approx. 10 minutes).

    2. In a different (small) saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes, just until the salt has dissolved - again, watch like a hawk. Then set aside.

    After the caramel reaches 350 degrees, remove it from the heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Add the hot cream mixture, stirring to combine (and being careful not to splash the molten lava on yourself like yours truly...) Whisk in the sour cream. Cool down, try not to eat it all before you have a chance to put it on the cake, and store it in a jar in the refrigerator. 


    A good go-to Ganache


    • 1 lb bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate (I often use Ghirardhelli 60% cacao chips but if you've got the coin go with scharffenberger or Valrhona!)
    • 1.5 cups heavy cream
    • 2 tbsp light corn syrup (if you want some sheen action)


    *Note - for this cake I kept it simple but I often add some strong brewed espresso or even some ultra finely ground espresso

    **Note #2 - If you want a fluffy, rather than shiny, consistency and look, you can let the ganache cool completely and then whip it with an electric mixer before icing your cake.

    1. Put the 1lb of chocolate into a large stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Over medium heat, bring 1.5 cups cream and 2 tbsp corn syrup to a simmer, then pour this mixture over the chocolate and let sit for a fe seconds until the chocolate starts to melt...

    2. Beginning near the center and working outward, stir the melting chocolate into the cream starting with your spoon at the center of the bowl. Stir just until mixture is smooth.

    3. Set aside in a cool spot or in the refrigerator and give it a stir every 5 minutes or so, until the frosting just begins to thicken. This is when you should spread it - when it is still slightly warm and ultra silky. Or, if you are opting for a whipped look, cool it all the way down and whip before spreading it. Whatever you decide, remember to lick the bowl.

      To achieve that silky look for your final layer, you may need to reheat the ganache ever-so-slightly so that it spreads on flawlessly... 


      This is where I like to utilize the old lazy susan... Don't worry if you don't have one though, I've been cake-ing for about 26 years and I just got one the other day...


      (killer mu-mu Grandma Mimi, where'd you stash that beauty!??)

      Using a long serrated knife, trim the tops of cakes to make level. Place the first cake layer onto your cake plate (put a dab of icing or caramel to secure it to the plate). Using a 1/4 cup measure, dip into the caramel, and spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of it to soak into the cake. Now, you can either let it soak in and then follow up with another bit of caramel or you can do a layer of the ganache here (I'd recommend whipping about a cup or a little more than a cup) of your ganache for the interior if you choose to go this route.) Place the second layer on top and repeat the regime with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Now for the final coating of icing - make sure your ganache is smooth and spreadable (warm it up a little if need be) and pour it on slowly, turning the lazy susan if you're using one and spreading with a spatula... * I will add in some pics the next time I do this! :) 

      Then - either sprinkle the top with some of your Sel Gris or Fleur de Sel or get your friends in on the scene and go all out...

      I am thinking of my dear friend Kristen who is very pregnant and dreaming of this cake... the stork might have to bring two special deliveries her way ;)  

      I want to hear about your baking stories and remember yes, you can bake your own wedding cake, and no you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a (perhaps stunningly beautiful) fondant coated sculpture that (oh dear) probably tastes YUCKY because that stuff is so WEIRD. 

      I'm going to bake cakes. 

      xo Jojo


    Blackberries. Homemade Yogurt. And the gear you need to brave the thicket.

    Good Morning!


    This photo illustrates a plethora of dramatic truths...

    a) Yes, the sunflowers are really taller than me and the last time we talked they were sprouts (b) It is really early in the morning... and (c) it is hay season... which is one of the many excuses for my disappearance...

    But really, this is serious now.  What do you think of this new look? Its only taken about 500 hours of pain, a few grey hairs, a few 40 phone calls to Apple and godaddy, and a hero, to get this new (slightly fancy-schmancy) website in action... thanks to my new friend, a certain lovely, smart, fabulous wizardress with impeccably killer good taste, otherwise known as Kelly Dudash... I am actually not going to throw in the towel and go Amish (though it isn't a bad plan, I do like horse & buggy as a mode of transport and I now have a new condition called cord anxiety, derived from all of the flipping electrical widget gidgets around these parts) the only reason being because Kelly explained bucketloads of weird technical mumbo-jumbo to me in "layman's terms" (read - totally right brain-friendly artist explanation style) and took my scribbly pen-and-paper drawings and voila'. She is an extremely talented artist, check out her photography here, WOW... I could go on and on, Kelly is a gem. 

    I now know WAY more than I EVER wanted to know about web design and widgets and codes and metadata and all that mumbo-jumbo... (and by "way more" I mean I asked the most basic of questions and I still prefer etch-a-sketch) I have a sneaking suspicion that my impressive knowledge base is only impressive to myself... the person who would still rather see photos printed on paper than the internet and make invitations by hand or paint signs or weed the garden for 72.5 hours straight or dig ditches for two days. Or wallow in chicken guts at 7:30 am...


    Just a theoretical figure of speech of course. (And no, for those of you who are concerned, we aren't actually alcoholics - don't worry, the Rolling Rocks didn't come out until 10).

    Anyway, the new websites. Thank you Kelly! I have a lot of work to do of course but I think its looking pretty slick and if there is anything to my theories, I'd say that it is about 95 times faster to post a blog thus I will be writing quite often. I said that. And I meant it. Hold me to it. I warn you I will come up with a lot of excuses...



    such as having NO time to do anything aside from capturing fleeting imagery such as the above.

    And then of course there is haycation...



    Ahhh haycation... the hottest and itchiest time of year with the longest days... we often barely make it off the field by 9 pm and beer tastes like paradise... and if you sling bales with us you can have as many Rolling Rock tall boys as you like. And then we somehow manage to eat some dinner and fall into bed only to get up and do it again. I LOVE haycation.


    That one was taken nearly two whole years ago, a couple of days before the triumphant, brave, strong, lovely hero of a man balancing on top of the precarious stack of 80 haybales, finally got the courage to kiss me. It only took him 15 years. (OK I suppose I could've brought up the issue a little sooner... but thats another story for another day ;)

    Today's story was supposed to involve FOOD. That's probably why you came here right?

    Or maybe not... there is always the riveting life of GusGus to keep up with..


    I like to call this one kohlrabi reverie.

    But I was supposed to be talking about blackberries. And style, wasn't I!?



    Clearly we will begin with the latter...

    caption: "Deriving extreme confidence from questionable & unknown source, this semi-young warrior dons storm grey saucy emblazoned coveralls and lipstick-red berry receptacle neck accoutrement and heads into ruthlessly thorny blackberry forest which will leave said self-titled warrior with many battle wounds"

    Photo ©the magnificent Jessica Burch, otherwise known as the best minion Bliss Ridge has ever seen. (we will view her collection of 2011 garlic braids next time. 


    Was it all worth it?


    Is it worth making your own yogurt when you can go to the store and purchase perfectly good Greek yogurt to go underneath those beauties? 

    Yes! Believe me! And it is SO easy. One should note that it is probably an even better idea to make ginger ice cream to serve as a perch for those beauties... but we did that... and of course didn't write anything down, ended up with a delcious adventure and have no way of repeating it... more on that later. For now, make this yogurt and cover it up with those juicy berries and maybe some sesame-coconut granola... 

    Do not use skim or 1% or any per cent or any sort of bastardization of milk... or any product for that matter! Eat and drink whole things! (More ranting on that later...)

    So, go to your local farmer and obtain raw organic milk... Seriously, even if you are currently a hater of the cow-juice, I encourage you to try out the raw organic stuff... take it from me - until I stopped by, innocently toting my empty milk-jar, to say hi to my favorite farmer and WOAH - happened to realize that we were desperately in love with each other and had been for the past considerable portion of our lives... I would've rather choked down a glass of puddle water than attempted a glass of milk... 

    So, you never know what you might find when you're out milk shopping...

    true love, glee, euphoria... none of that is out of the realm of possibility and we're here to prove it.

    This advertisement has been brought to you by the American Association of Dairy Farmers.


    Anyway, if you make it past the twinkly eyed farmer to the milk supply and manage to leave without forgetting your sweet delicious drink... 

    You should go right home and make this yogurt. 

    *note - if you do not live in the vicinity of any farmers - twinkly eyed or not - you can achieve delicious results with store-bought normal old (well hopefully not old) pasteurized milk. I recommend going as local and as whole as you can. 

    Homemade Yogurt (no fancy-schmancy yogurt machine needed!)

    4 cups raw organic cow's milk

    1/2 cup yogurt (yes its weird but this is just your "starter" - from here on out you can use your homemade yogurt to make more batches)

    I have found that full-fat Greek yogurt will give you an insanely delicious product

    You will need: a candy thermometer (or other type that can take the temp of your milk while it is simmering)

    a glass jar or a few, a good cooler or insulated thermos that is big enough to house the jars and pour boiling water around.

    basta! (that's it!) Do you feel cheated!? I sort of feel like I should be supplying you with much more but its all about the accoutrements and this very yogurt will be just that in recipes to follow... scones, zucchini cake... most baked goods are better with the addition of yogurt. It is a bold statement but oh-so-true. 

    Anyway. Man am I a chatterbox aren't I!?

    1. Pour your quart of milk in a saucepan and turn the burner on low.

    2. Heat to 170º, stirring occasionally... do not let it boil and do not walk away... like I do every time... 

    3. Meanwhile, fill your insulated cooler or thermos with boiling water and let it sit so that it warms up. 

    4. As soon as the temperature of the simmering milk reaches 170º, turn off the heat. Leave the thermometer in place and cool to 110º

    5. Place your 1/2 cup yogurt in a bowl and while whisking, pour in the milk. Whisk until blended then pour mixture into a quart glass jar (or however many mini ones you want to use!)

    6. Place the jars of yogurt into the boiling water in your cooler (if the water cooled down you should boil some more and replace it!)

    7. Leave it in a warm place for awhile... I usually make it at night, leave the cooler in the greenhouse overnight and then eat fresh yogurt with those obscenely large & sweet blackberries the next morning! 

     Remember these

    Let me know how it goes. My teeth are black and my right hand looks like a tiger encounter gone wrong but alas I am headed back out to the blackberry forest... they will be gone soon. Also, please let me know what you think of saucy's new "look" which will continue to be improved upon... as soon as it starts raining again and I regain some itty-bitty thread of patience... I'd like to buy some of that actually if anyone has some for sale? 

    xo Jojo von saucy, blackberry crusader