In time for Passover!

imageI will be at the Toadstool Bookshop on Sunday APRIL 6th, 2-4pm to sign my new book, The Story of Passover. Please come and say hello!

See my previous blog entry to get a peak inside 

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I also would like to thank the Amherst Public Library for inviting me to participate in the library’s “Celebration of the Books & All Its Lives” exhibition. The exhibition is on display until March 28th.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Recycled hearts.

And again!

imageThe endless winter—BUT the good thing about February 13th is that it’s Frank’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Poppy!

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Happy Groundhog Day!

imageJust found this card I did in 2004 and here it is Groundhog Day. It is not your imagination if you have seen it before. Sadly there is no German Shepherd lurking in the background because our sweet old Sophie had just passed away. But Bart is measuring Frank’s shadow while Butch finishes up the snowman. Gracie was delivering hot drinks. Funny how these cards that I have illustrated over the years tell the story of the comings and going at Frajil Farms.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

imageAs you can see, Santa {who looks remarkably like Frank} is thoroughly exhausted after all that traveling and delivering of presents. Now the holidays are officially over and we begin again. Best wishes from all of us to all of you.

Christmas week was spent preparing for Santa and being good elves ourselves. image

imageWe had exuberant letters to Santa, long lovely dinners, more snow for sledding and Santa even came with just the right presents.

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We saw the New Year in with Jen, Jack and Charlotte. Jen brought the most gorgeous lobsters and we had a feast. Jack’s picture was too late! Poor lobsters. In the pot are the remains cooking down into the most delicious lobster stock.imageBelow Charlotte is sitting in the back of my car with the sleds. Later Jen and Jack nap after an afternoon of sledding.image

How my Rabbis came to be Santas

imageA few years ago I was having a Christmas card emergency. It was almost past the time when printing was possible and I had not one good idea. As my eyes roamed my bulletin board there was the page of my Rabbis from the book Even Higher. I couldn’t resist and in a few minutes the transformation was complete!image

Peace on Earth! Joy to the World!

(Source: holidayhouse.com)

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah

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Wishing everyone the very best holidays from Frajil Farms.

photo by O.K. Riley / http://www.orianna-riley.com/

Frajil Fall

October was a riches of color. I love that I have this view for each season.imageimage

I have been experimenting with ways to extend our growing season. At the beginning of October I planted the cold frame with spinach and winter lettuces. They have germinated beautifully and I am about to do a massive thinning, all of which we will eat. imageI also planted an insulated tunnel with Swiss chard, arugula, Asian greens and lettuce. I chose seeds that could actually come back in the spring should this undertaking have been too late in the season. As I checked today to see the progress, there at the end of the tunnel was Harry, our cat basking in the warmth while sitting on my Swiss chard seedlings. Those beautiful new windows on my cold frame were built by my friend Ed Mottau. They are slightly open to allow for some cool air. 

imageHoudini had a great affinity for the pumpkins. imageSadie poses in front of the mums, the last flowers to bloom till next Spring.image

Sun-dried tomatoes

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The best tomatoes for sun-drying are Principe Borghese. They are an Italian heirloom that is famous for sun drying. Packed with tomato flavor, they look like little plum tomatoes, about the size of a large grape and are excellent producers. They are meaty, dry with thin skins and fewer seeds. I should clarify that these are really oven dried. The first year I grew the Principe Borghese tomatoes, I actually tried drying them in the sun, but they got moldy instead. image

Now to “sun dry” these little gems,  preheat the oven to 250°.

First make your salt mix:

1/2 cup Kosher salt

1 tbs. sugar

grated zest of one lemon

half dozen sprigs of fresh chopped thyme leaves

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, slice the tomatoes and lay skin side down. I maximize the space, cramming as many tomatoes as I can fit. They will shrink as they cook. Sprinkle liberally with the salt mixture and place in a preheated oven.

They take about 6 hours in a 250° oven. After the fifth hour, check and remove the tomatoes around the edges of your cookie sheet as they are the first to be done. They should be pliant, but not juicy. Pack in olive oil with a sprig of fresh basil. Store in a cool dark place. The olive oil will be as tasty as your tomatoes.

For a quick and delicious pasta dish, take a large handful of tomatoes (at least a dozen per person), and slice in half. In a frying pan, sauté a few slices of pancetta till crisp. Remove the pancetta and add chopped onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, a splash of white wine and cook till sauce thickens a bit, about 15 minutes. Throw in some cooked pasta, toss and plate. Garnish with the crispy pancetta you put aside, fresh basil and grated parmesan. Dinner is served!

Gazpacho Day

Gazpacho day is the day all the vegetables you need to make gazpacho are ready to harvest—it seems to also mark summer’s end. This recipe goes all the way back to our first year in New Hampshire. I was a newlywed, new gardener, new cook and almost a new mother. Add a couple of goats and some chickens to make our life the flip side of what we left in New York.image

Sandy’s Gazpacho

Cut into pieces 5 ripe tomatoes, 3 cucumbers (I use the ones that got away from me and are too big for much else. Just cut out the seeds and peel if bitter) 2 onions, 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1 big green pepper and a couple of jalapeños. Feel free to play with the mix of vegetables.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups V-8 juice, 3 tablespoons tomatoes paste, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. 

Using the food processor, purée the vegetables with the juice mix working in small batches until everything is puréed. Salt and pepper to taste.

To garnish, chop up a handful of fresh basil, parsley and add a sprig of oregano. For this last batch, I mixed leftover sweet corn cut off the cob and made a salsa of jalapeño pepper, cherry tomatoes and more cucumber. Any combination works. 

It tastes like sunshine!