Holiday Shopping at The Mercantile – Handcrafted Rustic Cedar Cheese Boards

Can you believe that it’s already time to start thinking about the holidays?  I can’t either!  Parties, guests, food, gifts, etc.  I decided to start easing into the holidays at The Mercantile this month by focusing on them.

Last spring I made some handcrafted rustic cedar cheese boards. My intention was to sell them, until, I showed them to my daughter and my sister in-law who absolutely loved them.  When I asked them if they’d like one, they eagerly said yes.  And need I say more?

Since I am already lining up projects to keep me occupied this winter, I decided to make some more cheese boards.  I’m hoping to sell these before I show them to anyone else in the family!

Each board is unique, and each varies in size, color, and yes, even in their imperfections.  These are made from aged cedar which has been milled and hand rubbed with a food grade oil to help preserve them (by me).

These would make the PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT for the FOODIES in your life.  Or, you could always splurge on yourself too!

The description and prices of each board are outlined below.

Rectangular Cheese board #1 (small) is approximately 10 1/2” long x 7 1/4” wide and is about 9/16” thick.  This board is $20.00, plus shipping. SOLD

Rectangular Cheese board  #2 (medium) is approximately 14 3/4” long x 7 1/4” wide and is about 5/8” thick.  This board is $25.00, plus shipping. SOLD

Rectangular Cheese board # 3 (large) is approximately 16 1/2” long x 7 1/2” wide and is about 9/16” thick.  This board is $30.00, plus shipping.  SOLD

If you’re interested in purchasing one of my handcrafted cheese boards then please EMAIL me with the size that you’d like to purchase.  Since I only have three boards finished at this time, orders will be filled first come, first serve.  Once a board has sold I will contact the buyer with a grand total (including the shipping charges).  I will also note on my blog if a board is no longer available.  Payment will be accepted via PayPal.

If you have any questions about the sale please contact me prior to making your purchase.

Other sale terms

* Seller has the right to cancel this sale at any time without prior notice – but will probably never have to do that because only civilized people come to my blog Smile

* All items sold as is.  These cheese boards have natural imperfections.

* All sales final

* Props not included

Please not that the picture below is of the underside of the medium cheese board.  Each underside board has knot holes and similar characteristics.  Also, these photos have been edited and the color may appear slightly different from the actual board.

Pair one of these boards with a nice piece of cheese and a good bottle of wine and you’ve got one gift down!  How many people do you have to buy for this holiday season?

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This Story Begins at the Brown Hound Bistro

“Good things come in small packages”.

This story begins at the Brown Hound Bistro, a small, yet cozy and tastefully decorated restaurant that is situated in  the hamlet of Bristol Springs, NY.  For those of you not familiar with the area, the restaurant is in close proximity to Naples and Canandaigua, NY. 

Last night, a  group of bloggers, travel writers, and some of the Finger Lakes tourism folks met at the Brown Hound to sample  an  array of  deliciousness that the Finger Lakes  has to offer; along with gearing up for this evenings Finger Lakes Foodie Awards, all part of this years Finger Lakes Food Revolution Slice, Dice and Spice IV event

The dinner menu was prepared using local meats, cheeses,  fruits, and vegetables.  And yes, plenty of  Finger Lakes wine flowed throughout the evening.

When we weren’t eating, drinking, and chatting till our hearts content, we did what bloggers and writers do best – we took pictures. 

The Brown Hound is one of several restaurants in the Finger Lakes Region that focuses on local resources.  As Trish Aser, owner of the restaurant explained, her goal is to make her guests dining experience as local as possible.  She does this by displaying local artists work in the restaurant, by inviting local musicians to perform there, and by preparing meals using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.  And I’d say that Trish does it well.

If you’re looking for a  great place to dine, celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to  support the local food movement,  then the Brown Hound Bistro is must.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

I love casseroles.  And fortunately for me, my husband doesn’t mind it when I find a new recipe to try out.  As scared as he might be at the prospect of me playing the mad scientist in the kitchen, he never lets on.  He is truly a brave soul!

Over the years, I’ve found that some casseroles can look better than they actually taste, and vice-versa.  I’ve been pleased with some, and disappointed with others. 

A recipe I found at the Better Homes and Gardens website inspired me to make this dish. 

I also have several other casserole recipes to work through and I’ll be sharing them here too.  If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog via email so you never miss one of my posts.  

Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

2 2/3 c. bow tie pasta (cook according to package)

1 tbsp. margarine

1 small onion, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 mini sweet red pepper, diced

1 mini sweet yellow pepper, diced

1/2 c. heavy cream

1 1/2 c. milk

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c. chicken broth

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, heaping

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. season salt

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

2 c. fresh spinach, rinsed, dried, and chopped

1 c. cooked ham, cubed or sliced

1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced

3/4 c. mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large skillet, add margarine, onion, red and yellow peppers, and garlic.  Cook until vegetables are soft  and tender.  Add flour, milk and chicken broth; cook until it thickens – stirring often. Stir in parmesan cheese, pepper, season salt, and parsley.  Remove from heat and add ham, spinach, and pasta; mix thoroughly.  Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Top with tomato and mozzarella cheese. 

Bake uncovered for 22-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before serving. 

Serves 6Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

So what do (we) think about this dish?  It’s a winner.  It’s creamy, cheesy, and has a hint of smoky flavor.  I served this casserole with a tossed salad and garlic bread; it was a perfect meal for a cold winter night. 

The only problem with this casserole? Getting good pictures of it on a dark winter night.

Do you like casseroles?  If so, what’s your favorite? Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Casserole

 

 

The FLX Files

flx1_001

In the midst of re-organizing my blog I decided to dedicate a page to one of the most amazing regions of New York State -  the Finger Lakes (FLX).   Over my last two years of blogging  I have  portrayed this region in many of my blog posts, and it only seemed right to give those posts a place all of their own.  While strolling through the FLX files you’ll likely find photos, mentions, and stories about a specific foods, wines, places, and events here.  I welcome you to the place I call home.

Red-White-and Finger Lakes Wine

Are you a wine-ie

Say Cheese

Weekend finds, but no food post

Homemade pizza from the Finger Lakes

Willkommen to Germany

Wine, and more wine…1st stop, Eleven Lakes Winery

Finger Lakes Cork & Fork, an Event to Remember

Kitchen Disasters

A Day of Adventure

A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane

Black & Blues

Picking blueberries and my mood

Calling All Foodies from the Finger Lakes and Beyond

Apple Filled Oatmeal Cookies

2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork Partners & Pairings

Another Great Finger Lakes Cork & Fork

Making Homemade Wine

Writing (and) Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Holiday Gift Ideas with Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Willard Asylum for the Insane – Updates

Sunday Morning and Doughnut Holes

A historic event, a statue, and photos

Shiitake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

In The Finger Lakes – Bully Hill Vineyard

A Surprising Walk

Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

Get Out Your Soup Making Pot

Finger Lakes Cork & Fork, an Event to Remember

I was raised in a rural part of New York State where agriculture has been a primary source of income for many people, for many years. Aside from having a small garden, a few berry bushes, raising small flocks of free range chickens and ducks for their eggs,  and maple sugaring in the spring,  my personal hands-on experience in agriculture has been minimal.

My first experience in agriculture came at an early age when a friend of mine, whose parents owned a potato farm, offered me a job picking potatoes one weekend.  Eager to make money, I spent my entire day on my hands and knees, in the dirt, pulling potatoes out of acres of cultivated rows.  Needless to say, it was then, that I realized my fortunes wouldn’t be made working as farm laborer.  My experience picking grapes was slightly more enjoyable than potato picking, but not a lot.  The downside to grape picking, spending entire days out in cold, rainy weather, and having to contend with bees on the nice weather days.

I probably didn’t know it then, but those experiences  helped shape my views on the agriculture today.  I’ve come to realize that without our local farms, and  workers willing to put in the long hours and endure the unpleasant elements nature hands out, each our lives would be significantly different. 

This past weekend I decided to pay homage to New York State agriculture.  I was fortunate enough to attend the first annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork event held in the Seneca County.   The concept of the Cork & Fork, to create a farm to feast event to promote  fresh, locally grown, raised, or farm made products and wine.  The products then make their way into the hands of some of the area’s best know chefs.  The chefs job; to prepare a epicurean adventure.  And that, they did. 

The friday night Partners & Pairings event featured a variety of tapas.  And of course, they were paired with some of the best wines from the Finger Lakes, and the excellent jazz tunes from the Johnny Russo Trio.

Chef Deb Whiting of Red Newt Bistro   offered a taste of her Apple Sausage Meatballs in a Creamy Apple Cider Sauce.  The meatballs were made with pork sausage from Autumn’s Harvest Farm , and cider from Red Jacket Orchards .  The meatballs were paired with a 2007 reserve Riesling from Red Newt Cellars.  If these didn’t bring  your taste buds alive, I’m not sure what would. 

Chef Sean Congdon of Greenside Grill prepared a Tea Scented Pork Belly with Brussel sprouts, Jerusalem Artichoke & Quince.  This dish was delicious, and was paired with a Riesling Ale from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.

Chef William Cornelius offered a dish prepared just special for this event.  He named it Cheriyaki Chicken.  The chicken came from Perrine Farms of Lyons, NY, and the sauce, a creation by Chef Cornelius, made for Brick Village Gourmet.  This dish was calling me back for seconds.  It was paired with Barn Raisin’ Red from Americana Vineyards, one of my favorite local red wines.

One of the most tasteful dishes of the evening was one prepared by Chef Sean Agate of the Divine Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Clarence.  As Sean reminded us, it was a very popular dish in the 70’s.  Here’s to his Finger Lakes fondue, and to the 70’s!  The cheese used in the fondue came from Muranda Cheese Company, and was paired with yet another great  Riesling from Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars.

Don’t worry, there were plenty more excellent dishes and wines to be sampled, and they made for a room full  of very happy tasters.  And dessert?  Lucienne’s Chocolate offered a Port Infused Finger Lakes Black Currant Biscotti with Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt.  Out of this world…  It was paired with Finger Lakes Ruby Port from Knapp Winery.   Life’s So Sweet Chocolates offered Chocolate Chili Truffles paired with Gewürztraminer Ice Wine from Standing Stone Vineyards.  Not only did I eat my truffle, I ate my hubbies too.  Don’t tell anyone…  And lastly, Cayuga Lake Creamery offered their Homemade Black Raspberry, and Vanilla ice cream,  drizzled with Moonglorius from Eleven Lakes Winery.  A perfect ending to a great evening of tastings and pairing.

The second day of the event included cooking demonstrations offered by some of the same local chefs who prepared the dishes the evening before.   There was also more local food and wine to be sampled, and purchased.  It was nice to be able to chat with owners of the businesses, or their representatives.  I asked quite a few questions, and learned a lot.

Chef Sam Izzo of Simply Red Bistro of Sheldrake Point

As I wandered through the large barn that housed all of the vendors I realized there were  a lot of products that I wasn’t familiar with.  To name just a few,  Tom’s Bootleg BBQ Sauce, Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese, Sunflower Oil by Stolor Organics, Stony Brook Squash Seed Oils, and wines made by Kings Garden Vineyard, among several others.  In all, there were 65 exhibitors representing  wineries, restaurants, foods & farms, specialty items and education. 

This was a great event.  A foodie, and wine lovers paradise.  It gave recognition to those who work  hard in the food and wine industry everyday, and I have to say, it left me with an even stronger appreciation for my life in the Finger Lakes.  If you didn’t attend this years Cork & Fork, you will want to catch next years, it can only get better.

Say Cheese…

What to do this weekend?  A common question in our house when household chores aren’t a priority.  I say cheese…  A cheese trail, or dairy farm that is. 

Cheese trails are slowly being introduced in our area.  Cheese trails work on the same concept as wine trails do. Dairy producers who manufacture artisan cheeses (sometimes referred to as farmstead cheese) use the milk from their own herds of cows, sheep, and goats to produce the artisan cheeses right at their own farms.  

These farmers work in unison with other farms in the area to advertise and promote their products.  Most offer free, or low-cost tours of their working farms.  You get a first hand look at their barns, animals, milking parlors, and cheese making facilities.  The best part, you get to sample and purchase the cheeses they make.

After researching a bit, I picked our first farm to visit, Side Hill Acres Dairy Goat Farm.  This farm is located in Candor, NY.   As we arrived at Side Hill Acres, we were greeted by a  friendly woman who came out a house on the property and walked us into their cheese shop. 

As it turns out, this woman, along with her husband, (Russell and Rita Kellogg) own the farm.  She is the farm’s cheese maker.  She explained to me, as we stood in the barn overlooking their 100 plus goats, and while the rest of her family trimmed goats hooves, that she and her husband started raising goats nearly twenty-four years ago.  Their family run business  has grown from producing milk, to making award-winning cheeses over the years.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I really respect  farmers.  They work hard, and put in long hours to make a living.  As Rita explained to me, they milk their herd twice a day, once at 4AM and again at 4PM – seven days a week.  You can tell by talking to Rita that this farm, and the goats, are her passion. 

Rita told me she learned the art of cheese making from both a Cornell University professor, and a student who she connected with through Cornell Cooperative Extension.  She said she worked with them for about six months, and once she learned the ropes, she took the knowledge she’d gained back to their farm.  She say’s she has been making cheese ever since.   

The cheeses that Side Hill Acres produce are their own creations, giving them unique tastes and quality. We tried several flavors,  and purchased a couple different kinds to take home.  The prices were very reasonable.

This was a great experience.  We got to pet the goats (who are very social creatures, and love people), taste the artisan cheeses,  learn a bit more about dairy-farming, and get a brief  lesson in cheese making.  I would highly recommend this as a family outing, and a great learning experience for any age.  If you are ever in the Finger Lakes region follow the  Finger Lakes Cheese Trail.