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The Benefits Of Local Raw Honey.

19 Jun

Okay. So maybe I took a break from this blog. It wasn’t that we weren’t getting along…things just got busy. You know how it goes. Out of nowhere you become occupied with everything at once and before you know it, five weeks have gone by without any contact. It’s okay. We’ve reconnected, and we’re still pals. 

Here’s an article of mine published today on the True Food Movement website. I talk about the benefits of local honey and the downfalls of all that other stuff claiming to be honey you find on grocery store shelves.

Here’s a look…

 …A list of contaminants found in store-bought honey can be obtained by doing a quick internet search, but suffice to say, you don’t want antibiotics or lead with your cup of tea. Those are ingredients that were found in one quarter of Asian honey inspected in 2009, the kind most commonly found in your grocery aisle.

For that reason alone, local honey is the superior choice, but there are plenty more. When you purchase regionally-produced honey, you support your local economy while also creating a greater community for yourself and your neighbors…

Go read the rest at True Food Movement!

Radio Flyer Herb Garden.

9 May

I found this old Radio Flyer wagon while driving down the street one day. Someone had put it out with the weekly trash to be picked up and destroyed. I couldn’t have that. I love old things too much, and my car had plenty of room to fit it.

The wagon has sat in my basement for a good three years, holding random boxes of tools and supplies in the workroom. However, this weekend while in New Hampshire I found a great little nursery with tons of annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. Each pot of herbs and veggies only cost $2.99. I couldn’t resist buying some.

Last year I had a couple of potted herbs sitting on the patio. This year, I now have a few more to add. I wanted them in one central location, out of the way, but easy to access for cooking. I saw the old wagon in the basement and decided it would be repurposed as the home of the herb garden.

It’s in a spot that gets a decent amount of sun, but with the wagon, I can easily move it to other parts of the patio if I think the herbs could benefit from even more sun. Once the herbs start to really grow, they should fill the wagon in nicely.

What did I plant?

  • Basil (a must-have for any garden)
  • Cilantro (for taco night and guacamole)
  • Pineapple Mint (for Mojitos to accompany whatever I use cilantro for)
  • Oregano (basic herb, but great fresh flavor)
  • Lavender (for cookies, butter, homemade cleaning products, etc)
  • Thyme (This survived the mild winter we had and never really lost leaves from last year’s growing season)

I ended up placing an extra solar yard light I had into one of the potted herb plants. It will add a little more to the evening atmosphere of the yard and patio. I also had some room to place a small watering can in the wagon as well, so that I can use the rain water it captures to hydrate the plants when they need it. Another thing to note…I drilled a few holes into the bottom of the wagon to drain any excess rain water. This will prevent your herbs from being overwatered if there are holes in the bottom of the pots that are used.

And I also was able to finally fill the raised garden bed I built last year (Post: How To Build A Raised Garden Bed). I’m looking forward to filling that with vegetables and updating their progress here.

One small year.

3 Apr

It has been exactly one year since my first post on this blog and I’m completely surprised at how it has gone since then. I really had no idea it would be so food centered. I really thought it was going to be more of a design centered blog. No biggie.

I’ve created some pretty tasty recipes and dozens of photos to accompany them (remember the Bourbon Soaked Cherries or the Cheddar and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms ?!?). I wholeheartedly enjoy the process of documenting what I’ve made as I’m making it. With that in mind, I think I’ll keep this site going on that same path for the future.

I’ve done interviews with some pretty awesome people about projects they are working on, and even made new friends in the process. (I’m talking about you, Joy Wilson.)

It was also an enjoyment to document road trips and vacations. Like that time I fell in love with Maine and the ocean and swimming in a rock quarry and the food and the people and the sleeping nook.

There have even been times where I thought I was crafty and made some things like these:

I’ll be continuing that all in the future, and add more into the mix as well.

With that said, I’ll be out of commission for a bit. I’m going in for heart surgery on Thursday (third times a charm, right?). With that in mind, I’m guessing I won’t be doing too many blog posts in the next two or three weeks. I promise to use the time to think up fun, tasty and aesthetically appealing content. And then I’ll use the remaining time I’m home from work to get all of those ideas posted up on here.

Also, in the next few months, Joey and I will be launching a new site! We have some pretty great ideas (well, at least we think     so) for content. We also have some amazing people on board to contribute, and I can’t wait to get that going for real.

And, since we’re talking openly, I may or may not change the name of this blog. Do we all like the name of this blog? Do I? I have no idea

Anyway, thank you all for reading, friends and strangers alike. You all rock. And I love that you keep coming back for more.

Shortbread Pop Tarts.

25 Mar

Homemade shortbread pop tarts? Uh-huh.

I had been looking for a way to make pop tarts from scratch. The filling was the easy part, the crust is what was perplexing. Recipes I had seen all call for making the crust with pre-made pie crusts. Meh.

Let’s be honest here, pop tarts don’t taste like pie. That’s why Hostess Fruit Pies exist.  So all of those recipes calling for pie crust use in this case are wrong. (Or, at the very least, terribly misguided.) After much consideration, I decided that the best option for crust would be a homemade shortbread crust.

As my friend Shari would say: Holy cats!

The shortbread is sweet and buttery and delicious. I flattened the dough into small rounds, placed some decent quality mixed berry preserve in the middle and topped it with another flattened dough the same size as the one on the bottom. These would definitely make Lorelai Gilmore go nuts – aside from the make it from scratch part.

Slice off the sides to give the pop tart its shape. Then, put in the oven for 20 minutes. Once they’re done, take them out and let cool. Drizzle the icing onto the top and add sugar. It’s really that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • jar mixed berry preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • decorative sugar

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Mix together the butter and sugar first. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that it mixes well with the sugar. Once they are mixed, add in the salt and gradually add in the flour.

Next, chill the dough for a few minutes until it is easy to form little pancake like shapes. Put a heaping tablespoon of preserve in the middle and spread around. Cover with another pancake shaped round of the shortbread dough. Trim the sides into a pop tart shape/size.

Once they are formed, put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

While that cooks, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. (Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time to be sure the icing doesn’t become too runny.)

Take baked tarts out of the over and put on cooling rack to cool. Drizzle on the icing glaze mixture and top that with decorative sugar.

Saltbox Farm – Concord, Ma

15 Feb

A shoot I helped out on with joe(y). I did some of the styling and whatnot. Great pics! Great food!

Joe And Sometimes (y)

Saltbox Farm is one of those places that somehow manages to capture an amazing essence of New England and distill it down to its truest and purest form. Pastoral fields, chickens running about and a weathered patina that seems to only get better with each passing season.  It’s the kind of place where modern cars somehow seem odd, you would half expect company to arrive via a horse drawn carriage and messages to arrive via telegram.  Owner Chef Ben Elliot’s grandfather built the farm in the 1940’s and modeled it after a 1720’s Saltbox.  Today, Ben carries on the tradition of the farm, using the land to harvest fresh produce, keep livestock and grow his culinary enterprise.  My dear friend, Chef Molly Loveday, has teamed up with Ben at Saltbox; together they not only run the farm but operate a successful catering company and offer private/group culinary classes.  I recently…

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Blackberry & Kumquat Filled Brandy Tuiles.

13 Jan

Now. Look at these. Look at them closely. You know how you are studying them, imagining how incredible biting into any of them would be? Take that taste in your head. Multiply it by at least 17,000. That’s how good they are.

Let’s talk about the Tuiles, shall we? Crispy little cylindrical brandy wafers filled with Greek yogurt, blackberry jam, clementines, kumquats and black pepper. Oh man.

These little tubes of tastiness really get your tastebuds up on their feet. They are a perfect way to end a meal. Or a perfect snack to eat while watching TV. Or right before bed. If you made them right, you could probably have them for breakfast too…maybe add some apple and cinnamon into the mix?

These tuiles were just one of the desserts Molly Loveday made when she created this dinner. As an aside, we were also invited over for dinner last night. Homemade Gnudi pasta. Oh my.

I’m getting way too used to this having an awesome neighbor thing.

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Oh, hey wedding day. (11/26/11).

18 Oct

Our late summer/early fall wedding celebration will be outdoors with lots of our musician friends playing music in the wooden dance hall in the woods. The one where you have to cross over the stream using the small wooden foot bridge. You know, the one right after you walk by the huge private in-ground pool. In our heads, it looks awesome. And the years of planning have payed off.

But then, life always loves to get in the way and switch things up a bit. And that is what happened here.

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Rockin’ Flea Market & Bloody Mary Bash!

29 Sep

Sunday October 16, 2011. T.T. the Bear’s. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There is going to be A LOT for sale here. From crafts to vintage items to baked goods and more! It’s going to be a fun time, be sure and stop by, have a drink and get to shopping! There will also be a photo booth, music, pool tables and more!

Basement purgatory.

15 Aug

So that one day I will not end up on a show about hoarders, I’ve decided to tackle the basement storage a little each week. I’ve kept everything down there for one reason or another. It was never junk. It was never trash. It all had some purpose or memory. Or so I thought.

It started a couple of weeks ago on a rainy Sunday. I was doing laundry. I decided that instead of walking past the mounds of boxes and bags strategically placed and balanced, I would stop and see what I had been saving all these years. I’ve been living in my current residence for just over 9 years. It was the first place I moved to after college and after moving out of my family’s home. I brought a lot of stuff with me then. I have also accumulated piles more since. Christmas gifts of faux useful items I would never use. That’s the majority of the new additions. I found two wine openers and two different kinds of electronic multi-gadget chargers just as I was scratching the surface.

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Musical notes.

9 Aug

Here’s a poster I put together super fast last night to promote the show of an amazingly talented friend.

(Not that she needs my help. It was announced this week she is Boston Magazine’s 2011 Best of Boston New Music Artist.)

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Middle East Upstairs. August 18th, 2011.

Free flight to London? Why yes, I will take that.

25 Jun

It has been almost a decade since I have been in London. I haven’t been since Spring of 2002. I attended school there for a time in 2001 (preceding and during 9/11 as well as the 3 months following). I have so many incredible memories of that place (and barely any photographs).

I am going back however! And thanks to the incredibly kind folks at Virgin Atlantic Airlines, I will be flying for free! I entered a contest (The Virgin Atlantic “20 Years, 20 Tickets: Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Boston Anniversary Giveaway”), along with 85,000 of my closest friends, for a chance to win 2 of 20 round trip tickets from Logan to Heathrow, and I freaking won! I am very thankful and completely surprised. Joe(y) and I are already researching places to stay and plan on traveling around Europe a bit while we are there.

I can’t wait to get there. Check out the old haunts. See my old pals (I’m talking to you Margarita and David). Here’s a memory box Mags made me before I left complete with adverts for movies we saw, pictures of shows we went to, stickers of bands we loved and of course, a picture of Patsy and Eddie on top:



Getting excited? Yeah. I am.

Excess Baggage.

11 May

*Note: The original purpose of this post was to send a broken-apart, well used and unconditionally loved fifteen year old bag back to the company from which it came to see if they would indeed replace it with a new one. As I was writing about it however, I realized I wasn’t able to actually toss my history aside so easily.

So I’m sort of a sentimental person. I enjoy holding onto objects, trinkets, clothing, mix tapes, and the like which are accompanied by a fond memory. I’m not a hoarder. (Although my basement storage and boyfriend might want to have a chat with you regarding that statement.)

One thing I’ve held onto for years, 15 years to be exact, is a black L.L. Bean bag which I borrowed from a friend staked a claim of rightful ownership to it after having it in my daily possession after a year. You can see a picture of it below.

This bag has been with me for half of my life. It has seen, in no particular order… My first real relationship. The death of my best friend. All six of the cars I’ve owned. Hundreds of concerts and shows. Most of high school and all of college. Living in Europe. Hiking in the woods. Picking fresh lemons from trees in California. Various pets. Driving throughout the U.S. And so on and on and on.

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Penpals.

18 Apr

One of the things I enjoy just as much as eating or listening to music is receiving letters and cards in the mail. It’s right up there with bacon. And a good cocktail. Not necessarily together.

Today I arrived to my mailbox after walking home from the subway and pulled out a blue envelope addressed to me. Addressed in pen. By hand. To me. Such a pleasant break from the horribly fonted black and white letters that were keeping it company in my mail pile.

I thought originally that it was a belated birthday card for me. But upon further inspection of the return address, I realized it was a note from Joy the Baker. (Yes, click the link now, I’ll wait.)

Last week, Joy announced she would be sending 30 letters to the first 30 people who emailed her with their addresses. It was one of the things she was doing in anticipation of her turning 30 this year. So, of course I jumped on the chance to get mail.

I received a pink hand-drawn heart outlined in red with a note:

Matthew, thanks for knowing me, and for being a rando dude who reads my blog. love. joy

How awesome, right? (I could also write about how awesome that black ink with a fine tip pen was used in the composition of the note. or that the body was written in all lowercase letters. or that Joy has the type of handwriting that just begs for more letters to be written. or that the card has a freaking letter pressed “Joy” with design. I mean, I could write about all that, but that would be weird.)

Now, I’m off to compose a note to my favorite pen pal of all time. A friend in L.A. with whom I was writing back and forth on a regular basis up until last year (writing even though we talked in some shape or form a few times a week). For some reason, sending of post ceased. I have a stockpile of cards purchased with the intention of making their way to her door, and now, finally, they’ll be on their way.

So thanks, Joy, for brightening my day. And also for providing me with delicious (no really, AMAZING) food ideas! And also for rekindling my letter writing/sending via the USPS.

Earl Grey tea & chocolate truffles with candied orange peel

7 Apr

Joe(y) made these around the holidays, and I’m really craving one right this minute.


Boston rock

6 Apr

One thing that I love about Boston that never seems to change or get old is the fact that this city has one kick ass music scene. My vinyl and CD collections would like the chance to kick your ass if you disagree.

Tomorrow night, for instance, I’m heading to the Plough and Stars to see Shepherdess. Singer/guitarist Hilken Mancini has always been one of my favorite Boston rockers, and I’m glad she’s back making music again since her old band Fuzzy stopped making music in the 90’s.

Another 90’s rocker who is still at it is the lovely Juliana Hatfield.

Juliana Hatfield today announced her new album will be recorded this month, with thanks in part, to you. Using a platform that is more accustomed to unknown bands trying to beg for funding to make their albums, Hatfield has decided to get in on that action.

Would you care to spend the day in the studio while her new album is being recorded? Perhaps you would like to Skype with her for 15 minutes? Maybe one of her original workbooks full of scribbles and partial lyrics would be more suited to your tastes? How about getting your name in the album credits? Or maybe you’re one of those fans that would like to purchase a lock of her hair? (No, really, you can. And people have.)

Whatever you fancy, she’s pretty much offering it up. In exchange for helping her fund the production of the new album, you get to be a part of it, and have the chance to also get a part of her in return, in some shape or form. Go support the album. It’s a pretty safe bet it’s not going to disappoint.

One decade down.

3 Apr

So exactly 10 years ago to the day, I posted my first LiveJournal entry. I didn’t plan on posting this first entry here to serve as some commemorative mark to my online history, but since it worked out that way, I’m going to roll with it.

I was going to post that initial post from 10 years ago here, as part of my entry into this new venture, but then decided that all four things I posted that day were really not very exciting. Much like I will think the same of this post in 2021.

To keep things semi interesting, here is a picture I took today. Feel free to ponder any questions that may arise.

 

 

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