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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 spring (3)


    Majestic Maple Gelato.  

    I boinged out of bed in the pitch dark today... well okay, it wasn't exactly a "textbook" BOING like say, this

    (©Lori Anderson) (airborn dad & me upon first glance down the "aisle" on wedding day)


    And I suppose it wasn't quite like this either

    (©Dana Jinkins) (Note champagne nonchalantly standing by in lower right corner...)

    Anyway, I was up and very awake well before dawn with my "milker guy" (his self-coined title as of 9:07 last night when he was all tucked up in bed, informing me that really, contrary to my giggling wonderment, 9 was a perfectly suitable bedtime for "milker-guys" like him...he is just trying to milk these last few days of "winter" because when real summer strikes we don't even think about coming in for dinner until 9 when it is beginning to get dark!) 

    Milker guy had other living things to attend to today

    So ole twinkle eyes made his way out the door, chuckling at me as usual.  As for me, other than the fact that my hip is in questionable form after some surprise pre-dawn Chuck Norris-esque roundhousing (in my case the result of a fit of unpredicted excitement rather than defense of the universe) which took place well before the copious dose of espresso that I am now flying on, March has been astonishingly majestic

     Pictures speak louder than words.

    I will presume the above home-cured maple & sage bacon on a backdrop of sprouting ARTICHOKES, cilantro and Etc., lures you into accordance with aforementioned buoyant antithesis of peaceful slumber. 

    Contrary to my (hero) milker guy, visions of fresh, delicious, hard-earned, organic latte (... or more accurately his responsibility to do his part of the chores over the hill at the family dairy farm) were not actually what levitated me out of dreamland at an ungodly hour.

    Maybe it was knowing that there are finally two prosciuttos evolving in the basement (a personal dream of mine)

     Maybe it was guessing that, with a forecast of 78, Popsicle Season 2012 may well begin today.....! (and managing to relish in that joy without it being overshadowed by the sheer terror of the implications of climate change... for a minute anway...)

    (Fresh garden strawberry and non-garden mango-yogurt-ginger popsicles, Popsicle season opening day, June 2011)

    Or the existence of other Spring things

     such as the arugula forest thriving in the greenhouse


     Delectable overwintered parsnips... The ground is unfrozen to the depth of at least 1ft in one of the gardens... as I didn't even have to pull out the Hercules card to dig these beautes on Saturday...

    The baby onions and leeks are literally growing faster than the weeds

     (It is so cool how they sprout up––like they are touching their toes––then they straighten up from the "waist" and stand tall...does that make sense?)

    But really, it was probably The List. No matter how efficient I think I am metamorphosing to be, my list of to-do's grows exponentially each day. I suffer from a (beneficial in some cases) parasite by the name of chronic ambition. And another by the name of NO PATIENCE.

    AND then there is the maple gelato that I made the other day, that was and is burning a hole in my mind... the deep, tree-y, sweet, smooth, outrageous-tasting dessert, all perfect in its little jar with a hinge top and spicy glazed sage-y pecan garnish... 

    That is what dreams are made of.

    And dreams, of course, would not have been possible without milker guy and the milk that he brought home with the three inches of cream on top.  You might be wondering why I didn't just go with milker guy to help harvest my key ingredient...

    (other than the fact that I have about 8 actual jobs including such pressing tasks at the top of said list as editing a couple of books ((not my own)), planning a wedding ((not mine, obviously), figuring out how to come up with the "match" part of the matching grant that we just became the lucky recipient of, not to mention frantically ordering the fruit trees and wondering if I shouldn't plant things in the garden two months early... what if winter comes in August this year!?!?...etc., etc., etc.

    Well, because I did just that, twice; tried milking. Rest assured that I do understand, in detail, where the milk comes from... Due to the multifaceted capacity of the white elixir in the realm of culinary magic... and the fact that I just like to try things, and the fact that for someone (me) who would rather eat gelato (& regular old ice cream in some cases) than anything else, with cheese being right up in the top 5 most adored consumables, I thought it was ridiculous (especially being the wife of "milker guy" who grew up on a dairy farm, and being from* a state who boasts more cows than people ((which is rumored not to be true anymore)) not to have even tried milking a cow in my 28 (at-the-time) years of age... 

    So once upon a time I did go with him.

     ... As evidenced by this vintage photo of my dashing saucy. emblazoned coverall-sporting milker guy.

    I, did find out however, that I am not a milker gal. 

    I also found out that I believe everyone who enjoys dairy products should try milking cows. 

    And, I think that milk should be a lot more expensive. And I have 0 patience for animals, zero. Oh yeah, sure, baby animals are cute.  But notice how SMALL they are... think about their brain size...

    ...I also am one of those people who recommends trying things, even if you have a preconceived notion of what it will be like, well, especially if you have one of those. 

    And no, don't get any ideas, I don't mean try everything ie: do not try out things like lying or drugs, or Blue mountain Dew but DO try things like milking cows and combining unexpected flavors and tasting things that sound really strange and throwing hay bales and smiling a lot and being thankful and learning from every experience and quitting a habit like TV or cigarettes and putting all the $ and time you save into a piggy bank and using it to go on a cool adventure 

    Ok, you're right, we've never had a television habit (or a television actually) nor a cig habit, well, except for one night

    ©JC McIlwaine

    We had it all and more that night. Even a camoflauge PBR holster.  Check out those nails; my sister and I split a packet of them. 

    It took us 3 days to get out of character after that NYE party... (and to get those nails off) habits are apparently hard to kick.

    How did I get from MILK to Virginia Slim menthol light extra lengthy-you've-come-a-long-way-baby-120's?

    No matter how little I used to appreciate milk, after tasting that slim, I can think of only a few items with a more heinous flavor.  From where is menthol derived?

    Not that I condone addictions, but if you are going to have a fetish for a dessert item, the following one is actually quite healthy for a sweetie... and definitely worth a taste AND I know you can make it, even if your kitchen track record is less than stellar, you can do it, go on, give it a try.  It is quick, simple, and amazing.

    (*And, oh, the only thing that might make this MORE delicious, is the addition of a bacon topping... which we will cover in the next post... all sorts of interesting hog-related antics.)

    Majestic March Maple Gelato

    1 cup maple syrup (as dark as you can find... I roll with grade C or at least B for that Fiiiine powerful unmistakably maple flavor)

    2 cups milk (ideally whole, raw, organic––trust me there is a HUGE difference in flavor and nutrition)

    2 cups cream (see above recommendations)

    generous pinch good sea salt (I like sel gris)

    4 egg yolks (preferably organic & pastured)

    I have made this with varying ratios in the milk and cream dept. and it has been wildly successful each time.  If you change the ratio to 3 cups milk : 1 cup cream, you will have a slightly icier texture, especially if there is any left that you end up storing in the freezer (doubtful).  If you go with 3 cups cream and one cup milk, you will have a denser, creamier texture.  All ratios are delicious.  I think all gelato is better when it is freshly churned and soft and billowy.... I don't understand why most recipes tell you to freeze it for awhile before eating, which is impossible with this one anyway, it is way too delicious; I recommend starting the churning right after dinner and voila' 20 mins later you will be ecstatic.  Oh, AND contrary to popular belief, gelato is so simple to make.  If you curdle the yolks by accident, just bust out the immersion blender and buzzBuzz the mixture for two seconds and it will be back to smooth.

    1) Pour 1 c. maple syrup into a small saucepan and heat over medium at a simmer for about 5-7 mins, until it reduces slightly.  Add the 2 c. milk and 2 c. cream to the pan and continue heating over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 7 mins.  Remove from the heat.

    2) Separate your 4 eggs and place the whites in a jar in the fridge for later use... (Im thinking meringue for a springy key-lime tart...) Place the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium-size bowl if you have a hand-held beaters.  

    3) 4) Beat the 4 egg yolks with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until they are light yellow and frothy.  Very gradually pour your hot milk into the yolk mixture while the machine is running.

    5) Pour the whole shibang back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 mins). If you over do it and the eggs scramble, as I said above, just buzz with the immersion blender for about 2 seconds until it is a uniform liquid again.

    6) Chill for a long time... if you are short on time start it in the freezer for the initial cool-down and then move to the fridge before ice crystals start to form. You want it to be cold before you put it in the ice cream maker.

    7) Retrieve cold custard from refrigerator (it won't be really thick like an American idea of custard) and pour into your ice cream machine. I have the one that attaches to the kitchenaid.  I turn it on and pour in the mixture while it is running or else it will freeze up! (Or follow the directions for your machine).

    While it is churning, make these simple and amazing nuts. I would recommend quadrupling the recipe and using them for a snack, as a cheeseboard accoutrement...

    Spicy, Sweet, Sage-y Party Pecans (can use walnuts and or rosemary here!)

    2 cups pecans or walnuts (or any mix of nuts!)

    1/2 tsp cayenne

    1 tsp sea salt

    1/2 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp (or more to taste) minced fresh sage or rosemary or a combination

    Drizzle of maple syrup (approx. 1/8 cup)

    1) Preheat oven to 375. Rub a baking sheet with butter if you don't want it to be caked with maple syrup crystallization.

    2) Place ingredients in a dish, drizzle with maple syrup, spread evenly on the sheet.

    3) Bake for approximately 10 minutes; do not walk away like I always do or else you will have black nuts and have to start over...

    4) Watch them like a hawk, they are ready when they begin to smell delicious. Remove from oven and cool.

    5) Scoop ice cream into dishes and top with nuts. Swoon.


    Springy & Minty & Exuberant Sweet Pea Soup (now that winter actually decided to arrive...)


    Back when I first sat down to start writing this post, things like this



    (pea shoots boinging up out of the dirt in the greenhouse) were causing me to boing around and do things like this



    (those are not brownies, they are soil blocks in which artichoke SEEDS were planted!!) Soil blocks rock. No need for annoying little plastic seedling containers that bust and then promptly fill up the landfill. I highly recommend getting a soil blocker. I only have the 2-inch guy and that works just fine––it is less labor-intensive than starting out with a mini blocker and having to transplant your seedlings into the 2-inch size a couple days later.  Check it out

    I had started to think about things like this



    (glorious ARTICHOKES)

    And this



    (aaahhh zucchini blossom/itchy skin from haying/popsicle weather!)

    And obviously things like this



    (I don't think an explanation is needed here)

    I was dealing with things like this



    (More grass than snow in February when we should be skiing up a storm, and an entourage of robust robins for your ornithological enjoyment)

    Hi little mini beer-gutted guys! (did they even have time to arrive at their winter destination between November and now!? And how did they get so round already, must've been good scavenging down in the dirty south)

    Everything was boing boing boinging! It appeared that spring was en route!

    It was looking like the whole of my precision-cut pieces of firewood toothpick collection



    would end up constituting a big enough woodpile to keep us warm for two years, since the notorious six-month VT winter was clearly a thing of the past.  And beyond the sheer terror of climate change and threat of ski-less winters, I was even looking on the bright side––I had discovered a new favorite sport and my skis wouldn't need wax for another couple of years...

    Boing boing boing!

    I made this, twice, and I'm going to do it again as soon as I get up from this chair



    BOING! Springy-looking minty and pea shoot-y (and fancy if you want it to be) deliciousness.

    I ordered more seeds and planted more sprouts.  I am wild about pea shoots. Sprouts are delicious in general (erase those brownish tinted fuzzy units from your mind and try planting some pea shoots or sunflower sprouts; you will then understand my joy. You can grow them in a flower pot or a wooden box or a tray, just put an inch or two of organic compost or potting soil down, sprinkle the seeds on top ((really you can use any old pea seed you might have or you can buy those that say "pea shoots seeds" on the packet)) cover with a little soil, water and in no time you will have these gorgeous salad greens!!)

    I love them because of their boingy flavor and mostly because they grow vibrantly in winter when everything else struggles and gasps for light, which is all but nonexistent in the height of Vermont winter.

    I'm not saying that pea shoots are exciting for every Tom, Dick & Harry, or that the hint of spring in the air was alighting a boing in everyone around here



    There are generally less bones available in the spring than in the fall...

    Because fall (customarily) means harvesting.  

    And spring, on the other hand, means babies.

    I mean baby animals people. And yes that was an automatic disclaimer, as there has never been such a reiterated, tired old question as "when are you guys gonna have babies!?" (haha I am exaggerating a little, I am not really that bothered by the question).  It's not that I don't like babies



    Look at this one for example! Gardner! He is an angel. I have never met anyone so lovely. (I can't tell how he feels about me in this photo... maybe a slight hint of skepticism but he was probably just cold... and oh, doesn't it look like I was squeezing him a little tight!?... he is irresistably snugalicious)

    And yes, we would actually like to have some of our own at some point, but, as I wrote in response to a lovely friend who happens to be in the midst of baby fever, "my life is overflowing with fulfillingness and I hate poop."  That sounded like a perfectly decent response to me because



    this is what happens when I have to clean up poop.  I cry. (Am I allowed to say "poop" on the air?) 

    For us, children are not THE paramount goal in life.  They are cool as hell and very important and we'll just have to see what happens but we have a lot of goals...  And in response to the "oh you will change your mind about poop, it isn't so awful when its your baby"... that sounds like the biggest load of... let's just say I'll believe that when I see it... Ew... though my dear friend Nicki did, at that very low point of gagging-with-bandana-over-my-face-dom due to doggy disaster, assure me that dog doo is a million times worse than baby poo.  Nicki is amazing for many reasons.  She was my first roommate ever, at college, and I love her.  And I will never forget those fine words, they will help me through some rough times I am sure... when we do decide to have munchkins, I am not under any sort of false assumption that it will be a piece of cake... I really don't know where I could've come up with that idea...



    (Our gene pool, documented above = exhibitionist rascals who hid our clothing) That is me on the left, probably scaling a giant hay stack to leap off the top; woodsman on the right most likely photographed .2 seconds before he stripped off his knickers and threw them in the sea).

    What I do know, is that this fine springy soup that I've been meaning to tell you about, was extremely popular with my homegirl Harper (Gardner's big sister) at the age of 8 months old...



    I am willing to bet that it has the power to proffer a joy equivalent to the above, to you... (I guess I hope you have more than two teeth if you are reading this but even if you don't, do not worry, you can still eat this soup!) 

    There really are a ton of selling points to this glorious green bisque.

    Harp earned her saucy, having displayed such a sophisticated palate from such a young age



    And even though it snowed a foot (I hope the birds don't give up on Mo' Nature and retire in a nice midway point with plenty of leisure activities and less threatening sporadic climate, like Maryland or something)



    I don't see any cozy place for a bird's nest out there...

    Wherever you are, in whatever season, whether with fresh peas available or not, I recommend you

    go and get your saucy on



    We did.  And you can too! (that is my dear Katie, Harper & Gardner's mama on the left!)

    Go whip up this lovely green dish! The color is fab.  And of course, the recipe is so adaptable; you can use frozen peas from your garden or from a bag or organic frozen and mint of any kind... I actually had to use dried mint from this past summer (I dont know what kind it is... the kind that proliferates into a 6ft hedge and I often have to weed-whack it down but it makes delicious smelling mulch) Anyway, my point is, as usual, you have to TASTE your food while you are cooking it if you want it to taste right.

    The trick here is not to overcook the peas, let them be that brilliant springy green.  Oh, and did I mention this can be made in 30-45 mins! woohoo!


    Springy & Minty & Exuberant Sweet Pea Soup (I think it is an ideal first course to precede the Sexiest Chicken Ever... or anything else. It is unique, simple and glorious. I am going to go make some right now.

    2 tablespoons butter

    1 sweet or yellow or red onion (or 2-3 leeks)

    1 lb-ish sweet if it is mid-winter and you never save enough spring peas to freeze your own b/c they are way too delicious fresh, use frozen organic peas. If you have fresh peas then use them!

    4-5 cups chicken stock (yes you can use veggie if you're a veggie :)

    1/2-3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint (the quantity really depends what type of mint you are using, some are stronger than others and, as I said, I successfully used dried mint in a pinch as well!)

    Fresh thyme if you have it (approx 1 tsp.)

    1/2 cup cream (or whole milk or half&half)

    1/2 cup whole plain yogurt (preferably Greek or homemade or homemade Greek!)

    Plenty of coarsely-ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

    Fresh pea shoots to garnish! (and Bacon, of course, is an optional garnish as well)


    1. Place 2 tbsp butter in a medium-size saucepan and add 1 roughly chopped onion and a pinch of salt.  Sauté over medium for a few minutes until onion is relatively soft.

    2. Add 1 lb peas and enough of the stock to cover the peas by about a half an inch. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes. The peas will brighten in color and soften.

    3. Turn off the heat and add the fresh thyme leaves, mint leaves (start w/ a 1/2 cup) and enough stock to purée successfully... ie: I like to start the immersion blender and as the soup thickens as it is blending, I add in a little bit of stock at a time to reach my desired consistency.  Or if you are using a blender, the same rule of thumb applies––add the mixture to the blender and add additional stock as it gets thicker.

    4. Taste. Add more mint if you want it mintier. If you are after a particularly suave, smooth and velveteen green soup experience, strain the mixture through a fine sieve at this point, pressing on the solids to get all of the green magic out.  Save the "bits" for pea & mint ravioli filling at a later date!

    5. Whether you chose the velvet or the slightly thicker consistency option, whisk in the 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup yogurt at this point.  If it is too thick for your liking, add more stock and whisk.  Taste. Add more mint, salt and/or pepper if you desire.... and crispy little bits of BACON.  If you like bacon, this is a perfect opportunity.  If you don't like bacon, I don't know you.

    Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding!! There are (a few) vegetarians that I love. A lot.

    6. If you are saving the soup for later (ha, it is too delicious, you'll have to have some now :) just put it in the fridge and when it is time to warm it up, do so over very low heat, stirring constantly.  Watch it like a hawk and do not let it overheat or curdle.

    7. Serve garnished with fresh pea shoots, a bit of yogurt or cream or sour cream or creme fraiche and cracked pepper. 


    I am aware that you might not believe that my enthusiasm for this simple little recipe is justifiable... but trust me. Try it. Tell me how you like it.


    What are you looking forward to in the realm of springtime?

    Do you think I can convince you that you CAN grow a garden (no matter how tiny or enormous) and enjoy it to the max? I hope so.



    Food is growing!! (& fond reminiscences of long-lost sunny days & a ((summer)) roll recipe)


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