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.

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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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    Entries in appetizer (2)


    Just give the people what they want: (stand-up) BACON!

    So you probably just assumed that my disappearance was due to a pork-product-induced sloth-like state of quaalude-esque relaxation, providing opportunity for me to spend my days reclining upside-down in Rainforest canopies...

    Naturally. Me and little Slothy up there, the slowest mammal on earth, basking in the Amazonian sun, two peas in a pod...

    Ha. Contrarily (though I am definitely high on home-cured bacon

    and pancetta and guanciale and maple-sage sausage and LARD!)

    relaxing calmly in a tree... we can go ahead and add that to the "Big Goals" list...

    My life is a tornado.  And not the "act of God" kind of tornado... (no there is nothing merely coincidental about bringing "God" into this bacon-based spiel ) But I take full responsibility for the chaos and hope that someday I will add to my vocabulary words such as "no, I can't actually do that, or anything else, until 2020 because the next eight years are overbooked and I haven't allotted any time for sleeping..." 

    Exceedingly important duties

    such as molding festive ducky butters,

    tying knots around various shapes of various meats

    and watching food grow

    are of paramount importance...

    Clearly there hasn't been much time for dancing as of late...

    (Hello lovely dusty boots, don't worry I haven't forgotten about you....)

    Those are the nice parts of the tornado.  Somehow I don't have photographic evidence of the harrowing bits. For example, nothing says tragicomedy like me standing in the back of a pick-up as the sun goes down, shivering whilst pitch-forking fresh manure... tears, screaming... trophy wife envy, oh yeah, I experienced the whole gammut of emotions... 

    Then there was Tuesday, when I swore for at least the 50th time that I will never-ever-ever do taxes again... there is a limit to my previously-thought-of-as-insatiable quest for knowledge and it stops right there. I have no desire to learn anymore about taxes.  Nor can I possibly endure waiting to tell the person on the other end of the "Help" line that they must, for the health of the vast body of "help"-seekers who clog the lines and cause 15-minute wait times, change the hold music... KENNY G. IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER (KENNY G!!!!) It is NOT 1990... I can't. I'll take it as a sign.  I shall start a piggybank with the dedicated mission of purchasing the services of a professional.

    I blame those taxes and that load of sh*t for many ailments, including the reason I have barely been able to type for a month. My arm has been acting like it doesn't belong to me. Mind you it could have something to do with heavy-lifting

    But probably just too much time on the computer.

    Maybe I'd save time if I was a vegetarian...

    Ha. I'd have to quadruple the garden spaces... and

    vegetarian farm bosses still have to split wood.

    I should not be joking like this. My husband is probably reading and probably shaking in his boots, envisioning his onion-chopping duties quadrupled...

    Besides, there are scarier things than acts of God and vegetarianism. Like this

    You know, just to give you an example.

    The scary part of that is actually (forget that instantanious mirage of blue Mountain Dew, Nascar and Walmart that just assaulted your mind) climate change. This (lovely) crimson neck is the product of a middle-March afternoon of standard woodsman chores. Yes, I said MIDDLE OF MARCH!!!!

    In a previous lifetime, spring in Vermont (read: the season that spans from when it stops going dark at 3:30pm––until June, when it is considered safe to plant one's garden without the threat of frosty nights) offered up some seriously good skiing

    If you are familiar with the soul-stifling feeling that accompanies vast layers of turtlenecks and so-called high-tech layering systems which proclaim to allow the believer to enjoy a -20degree ski day, you may be in full accordance with my penchant for April ski jaunts...

    However, it looks like the concept of 70-degrees with plenty enough snow to ski, is a historical relic; as of Friday, them mountains were in fine birthday champagne drinking form, sans snow!

    (this photo is much funnier if you put your hand over us and GusGus is left alone with the bubbly haha)

    Due to the fact that milker guy surprised me by coming home from work early (a rare feat in the realm of milker guys and farmers and workaholics) toting whiskey, chocolate, tulips with major pizazz (red striped on yellow=so rad) and some lovely new cheese from Scholten family farm, then proceeded to cook me lunch, and whisked me off to scale a mountain with champagne... I momentarily forgot about the tragic nearly ski-less "winter" and accompanying climate change terror... 

    I remembered some rule I heard somewhere sometime about the importance of farmers taking one day OFF every single week... (oh yeah it was from these live-off-the-land legends, Helen & Scott Nearing, who lived to be 100 years old!)

    One day off, meaning one day away from farm work to spend QT with your hero and do something adventurous

    ©Duncan Hipkin

    such as petting sharks. 

    Obviously. (note flat palm & tucked feet due to state of petrification)  

    How did I get to shark-petting? Oh, right, the guys at Compass Cay were tossing little toes toe-shaped bits of hot dog in the water around my feet so that the sharks would come up and nibble... 

    Beyond the fact that when sliced into bits they look alarmingly similar to toes, I find hot dogs repulsive and did not add them to our agenda of hog meat experimentation categories...

    We had a lot of ground to cover.

    Two pigs & 12 hours of butchering lie ahead, plus a multitude of big dreams in the home-curing department... maple & sage bacon, pancetta, prosciuttos, guanciale, spiced slow-smoked hams and a heap of boston butt (which is actually shoulder, just to keep things fresh...) 

    Furthermore I cannot figure out the necessity of jamming perfectly delicious spiced ground pork into tubes of intestine for the sake of making tube-shaped meat units.  That is WEIRD! And weirder yet, through quite extensive research, we found that it is impossible to find a source for organic sausage casing; thats right, those "organic" sausages that you are buying are not cased in intestine from organic animals... The USDA allows 5% of "certified organic" products to be non-organic, which, of course makes loads of sense.  I also found out, in my research, that if a truckload of steaming manure brings me to tears I might not want to volunteer a day to hosing out intestines of dead animal in hopes of making my own organic casing... It is a messy job and must be well separate from butchering areas; for this reason only industrial slaughterhouses in the US have the space to house a separate intestine processing quadrant... No thanks on the tube shaped meat units for moi.  

    So the saucisson and cappicola will have to wait... But honestly, as is the title of this post, people really just want BACON.  I mean, I like bacon with dates, I like bacon with peas, you can wrap bacon around anything and that anything will be delicious no matter what it was like in its raw state... but bacon, needs nothing and no one.  Bacon (provided it is good bacon) does not beg accessories.  

    And it is this school of thought that birthed the phenomenon of stand-up bacon.  It is a preposterous oversight that bacon is so often treated as an accessory itself.  And we weren't about to let that continue, not us, the formidable duo of my one-and-only roomie and I.  

    There she is, soul-sistah Nicki, rocking the seating chart and glassware on the morning of my wedding day.  I am thankful for my college experience for many, many reasons but the genius who was in charge of matching up freshman roommates in '99... well I'd like to find that precious soul and send him/her some of this bacon. Or a note. Or a serenade. Or all of the above.

    The fateful evening we founded the following knock-your-socks-off app, Nick had an elegant menu planned and a freezerful of bacon slab to boot.  It was her (total bad-ass) husband James' 30th birthday and we had a hell of a party to throw.  With the first toast of our martinis, a moment of recognition struck: the enhancement of every guest's life was in our hands.  We also needed some height for one of our famous crudité platters... and why on earth would we give our guests willowy celery fronds when we could offer robust bacon sticks!?!?! Brilliance.

    This hors d'oeuvre will never, ever go out of style and will always, always be desirable. Hows that for a multi-faceted, never-fail, less-than 30-minute dish!? 

    Stand-up Bacon (and pancetta) in mind, the woodsman and I took home two pork bellies from our day of butchering last month (which I will describe in detail next time) and consulted the Charcuterie book ... We personally decided that chemical nitrates/nitrites are nasty (yes I know that they are "naturally occurring"  in celery) but after extensive research we decided we trust Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as well as our own home-grown piggies and watchful eyes, (and besides, with bacon, you are going to cook it fully so there should be no botulism fear!) so we opted out of the chemical pink salt but based our bacon off of the Charcuterie Book's basic home-cured bacon recipe...

    but added in a generous portion of fresh sage.  And rather than cooking in the oven like Michael does, we opted to smoke it outside in the smoker. 

    *Oh, and if you decide to delve into some research, you will read many, many accounts telling you that it is the pink salt that gives bacon its "bacon-y" flavor... and replaces a would-be unappetizing gray colored cured meat product with the familiar pink tone we are all used to... well that's a load of BS. Our no-chemical-preservative version of bacon is BY FAR the best I have ever experienced and there is nothing gray or unappetizing about it. 

    Even if you don't want to start from scratch and kill your own pig, butcher it, and cure the bacon, you can rock Stand-up Bacon at your next soirée... It is sure to be the most sought-after hors d'oeuvre. 

    Stand-up Bacon

    •A LOT of strips of bacon (Id recommend a couple for each guest) *If you are slicing your own, adequate length makes for better display & 1/4inch thick is just about perfect. 

    •Maple Syrup (the darker the better)

    •Freshly ground Black pepper (you can also use cayenne, sage, paprika... whatever spices you want to stick to your sticks!)

    1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay your bacon slices onto a rack over a sheet pan.  Bake for about 15-20 mins or until the bacon begins to brown. Remove from oven and brush slices with maple syrup.  Sprinkle/grind your spices on top and bake another 5 minutes or until perfectly crisp. Place on paper towel until stiff. Find appropriate vessel (mason jar, glass, shotglass) and stand up the bacon in the vessel. 

    2) Watch it disappear as sheer bliss enraptures each and every participant. 

    3) Repeat.

    I can rest easy knowing the guard-dog is protecting our stash from any wayward bacon bandits. 

    I want to hear your tales of tall bacon! Please report back! 



    (far from your average) MEATBALLS ("wicked pissah" spiced lamb and/or beef balls)

    Bliss Ridge is "the balls" as some would say.  Actually the person who enthusiastically refers to this place as "the balls" really says "the bawwlls" with an unmistakeable New Hampshah accent. His name is Darryl and he drives a huge-ass truck filled with (organic-approved; remember we keep it clean & green up here!) potash.  He shows up around the beginning of July and dumps enormous "Ash Mountain" right at the bottom of where the meadows begin (see distant black lump in photo below)

    Then he heads on down the road with his "bible on bowahd" (Darryl's response when my husband directed him to maneuver his monster truck via the goatpath-esque route to the interstate, was "don't worry, I've got a bible on bowahhd"((onboard))).

    He thinks Bliss Ridge is "wicked pissah".  We think Darryl is wicked pissah. His wife's name is Sherry and he thinks she is wicked pissah too. And it is wicked pissah when he talks about how wicked pissah she is. We hope she rides up with him next time.

    Serendipitously, having not had "wicked pissah" or monster trucks or potash or Darryl enter my mind prior to typing the word "balls," which phonetically, mind you, is pronounced "bawwllz", I have now dedicated this post about wicked pissah spiced meatballs, to Darryl.  We can thank him for some great new vocab words and some seriously good-looking, red-clover-rich grass (the hayfields up here were in dire need of rejuvenation by the time I finally moved back home... for 17 years they had been hayed and manicured religiously however not a smidgen of fertilizer was applied... so Ash Mountain deliveries a few times per summer are a necessity, until these guys can get the fertilization regime under control.)

    They are good at mowing. And they are delicious. And they mowed down my winter carrot crop. So we took down their ring leader.

     Remember ole Skippy, the untrustworthy horned ginger guy there in the middle? Well... he got shipped off to Kermit LaBounty's place, in four pieces, shortly after the massacre of the carrot patch. He crossed the line one too many times ole Skip...

    At least he won't be making the same mistake twice

    (No, I didn't really shoot Skippy on Sunday Gunday, but I whacked two clay pigeons out of five. And if you do the math... you might just conclude there is a possibility I could be a sharpshooter; stay tuned; I've only ever fired seven bullets but we'll see... the next time my carrots are threatened we. will. see.)

    What I did do, was spend a day wrapping meat with John the Butcher. He rocks. I'll tell the tale of that classic day next time I write about cow meat!

    Meanwhile, back to the bawlls.

    Skippy and his high-tonnage team of beasts with an affinity for escaping and munching my garden, make for some exciting dinner. These are also lovely as an appetizer though I don't recommend serving them on toothpicks as the sauce is too delicious and you'll want to eat more of it than can be soaked up by a ball on a miniature stick.

    Spiced Lamb and/or Beef Meatballs ("Wicked pissah bawlls")

    (makes approx. 36 1.5-inch diameter balls)

    1.5 lbs ground meat (I have made these with all-lamb, all-beef and a combination of the two... DELICIOUS each time)

    1 medium onion, finely diced (I prefer red)

    3 very large garlic cloves (or 5 small ones...)

    2 tsps salt

    1/8 cup (packed) finely diced fennel (can use the fronds and stalks here)

    1.5 tsps cumin

    1/2 tsp allspice

    1/4 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp fennel seeds (toasted = better)

    2 eggs, lightly beaten

    1/8 cup (heaping) raisins, chopped up–or use currants to save time!)

    1/8 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves, chopped–or use 1 scant tsp dried mint

    1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

    *optional: 1/2 - 1 cup finely smashed fresh breadcrumbs (I didn't use them last time and the balls stayed together just fine and were equally as delicious. If you anticipate random dinner drop-ins or you want to "stretch the meat" add some crumbs!


    1.5 tbsps olive oil

    2-3 cups puréed tomatoes (hopefully frozen from your summer garden; canned will also work just fine if you are stuck in the middle of a yankee winter and have exhausted your supply, for example)

    1/2 cup milk (don't mess around with any bastardization of partially skimmed or skimmed (gag) milk!!)

    dash of salt



    1 cup tomato purée

    1 tsp toasted ground coriander

    1 tsp salt

    *whisk ingredients together in a saucepan while heating for about 10 mins to combine the flavors. Set aside.


    2 cups plain yogurt (see above threat regarding what type of yogurt to use... hint: WHOLE milk)

    Juice of 1/2 a lemon (I like Meyer lemons)

    1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped finely

    dash of salt & dash or ground cumin (to taste)

    *whisk ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
    Garnish: fresh cilantro

    1. Prepare both "serving sauces" and set aside - they can both be made a day or so ahead of time and refrigerated if you're the organized type.

    2. Place all meat ball ingredients in a large bowl and stir/toss with a burly fork to combine everything so that it ends up in an evenly distributed manner. (This can also be done hours or a day ahead of time and refrigerated, which will allow the meat to imbibe the spices = yum)

    2. Form your balls in whatever size you please! (I usually do about 1.5-inch diameter)

    3. Pour "cooking sauce" ingredients into large heavy-bottom skillet, to the level of about an inch deep – enough so that it ends up being 3/4 the way up the balls (I used a LeCreuset braising dish here...please excuse the horrendous photo, I was in a hurry and it gets dark at 4pm here in the tundra!)

    4. Place balls in tomato sauce and cook about 10 mins then flip over and cook 5-10 more mins (depending on how rare you like your meatballs. TASTE them and decide if they need to cook longer.

    5. Prepare large flat-bottom serving platter with sides (I like to use this yellow one, it is about 12-inch diam.)

    (yes the table is still decked out holiday-style thanks to my mom and sister)

    Pour some yogurt sauce slowly into one side of the platter and some tomato sauce slowly onto the other side of the platter. Now you can swirl the two if you like to be fancy (I like fancy).

    6. Place finished meat balls into the sauce in the same manner as you did when cooking them (but you can squeeze them in a bit closer to each other)

    7. Garnish with fresh cilantro (some thinly sliced scallions would be a nice addition as well) and provide size-appropriate serving utensil so that sauces can be scooped up with each ball.

    OOh ooh here is an idea; you could serve these beautes aside/atop this Israeli couscous... or as an app on their own, or you could hastily put them in a glass container, throw them in your backpack and ski into the woods to a cabin with 7 friends and have a ragingly fabulous New Years Eve,  pairing said meat balls with whiskey. Predecessed by fondue. And other delicious items.

    I apologize that there are no photos of the finished dish (yet)... but here are us meat ball recipients, (minus one brave soul who was already teaching small children to ski at the time this photo was taken) who, take note, still appear rather gleeful on New Year's Day, regardless of the staggeringly disproportionate sleep:whiskey ratio emblematic of the previous evening...

    I recommend whipping up some bawlls and heading into the woods for a wicked pissah time!