Monday, June 27, 2011

Salem and Salads

As I was saying, James and I drove to Salem, in Eastern New York to meet and stay with a professor and friend of his. Although we were technically there to help paint a fence, James also wanted to show me the professor's property and the surrounding area.

We did quite a bit of driving in the area and I loved everything about it. There were so many old houses and farms, and I loved how the fields are so flat, until they suddenly meet rollings hills. And everything was so green! 

I fell in love with the professor's property too—he has a beautiful, old, timbre-framed house and it's full of such neat stuff—books, maps, photographs... I just generally loved the atmosphere. It was so homey and lived-in—reminded me of being at my family's cottage.

There was so much to love about his place. He had a library full of the most interesting books. Going up there reminded me of the library scene from Beauty and the Beast, when Beast reveals his big surprise to Belle.

Maybe it's not quite as grand, but at least it was real. We didn't have much time there, but I managed to skim a few books about how to make maple syrup, William Morris, sugar and strawberries. I was trying to find out what kind the Amsterdam berries were—I think I found the variety, but have since forgotten the name. It matched the description perfectly, was developed in Holland and started with a G...oh well.

His kitchen was well-stocked with dishes, cutlery and appliances in a style I loved—lots of colourful pots and wooden bowls. After 6 weeks of travel and crowded hostel cooking, it felt so good to finally have access to a real kitchen.

James and I did a little cooking for ourselves, so I do have some recipes for this post. I know they are pretty rough and simple, but I hope they are ideas worth sharing. We really liked them, at least, and would readily make them again.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
(Serves 3-4)

  • 2 Parsnips
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 2 Beets
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • A handful or so of crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts (maybe a half cup of each?)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Some mix of greens—we used Spring or Mesclun mix with a bit of spinach

1. Peel and chop root vegetables into thick pieces, and toss in oil (I left the skin on the sweet potato).

2. Bake at 375F until just tender, but not mushy (you don't want it to fall apart in your salad)—about 45 minutes (you might want to start the beets early because they take longer).

3. Allow the root vegetables to cool completely, then toss with greens, cheese and walnuts. 

We had leftovers from this salad, so we ate some cold the next day for lunch. I think I might have liked it better cold. The next night, we had a another chance to cook for ourselves and were apparently still craving greens and starches...must have been all that fence painting.

Warm Potato, Green Bean & Spinach Salad
(serves at least 2...James and I finished it all, at least)

  • 4 red skinned potatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs malt vinegar
  • Handful of green beans
  • Pinches of rosemary, sage, sea salt and thyme
  • A couple of handfuls of baby spinach

1. Chop potatoes and onion into bite-size pieces. Place in a pot and add enough water to cover, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender. Meanwhile, chop garlic and herbs.

2. In a bowl, toss potatoes and onion with garlic, herbs, salt and oil until everything is well coated. Spread evenly on a pan and place in a the oven on broil until potatoes are brown—flip and stir as needed.

3. While potatoes are baking, steam green beans and prepare spinach.

4. Combine potatoes with beans and spinach. Drizzle malt vinegar and add salt and pepper to suit your tastes. Serve warm.

After 6 nights, we reluctantly left Sheafe's house and headed for Williamstown, where James went to school. I think this blog post is already long enough, so I'll leave that for next time.


  1. I want this man's house!! He has my dream home!

  2. That house is so perfect! It almost seems imaginary!


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