Blue Heron Local Cuisine

Cooking, Eating, and Drinking on the North Shore (and beyond)

Thanksgiving in a muffin: Sweet cranberry muffins November 26, 2008

Filed under: Recipe — blueheronlocal @ 2:08 pm
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I’ve never been much of a Thanksgiving person.  I can very happily
give up gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, anything casserole, and
pretty much everything but mashed potatoes (with or without turnips),
stuffing, and the olives from the relish tray.

These muffins, on the other hand, combine a few Thanksgiving classics
into a tender sweet-tart everyday extravangence.  Cranberry season is
short, so take full advantage of all those Massachusetts cranberries
on grocery store shelves.  Even this year– there was a record
harvest– fresh cranberries won’t last long.

Sweet Cranberry Muffins

3/4 c whole wheat flour (for an extra shot of protein, substitute 2 T
of dried milk powder, 2 T chick pea flour and 1/2 c whole wheat flour)
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1 T baking powder
pinch of salt
3 T sugar
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and finely grated
1 1/2 c fresh cranberries
1/4 c oil
3/4 c milk
1 egg

Beat together the milk, egg, and oil in the small bowl.  Blend the dry
ingredients well in a large bowl.  Stir in the sweet potato and
cranberries.  Mix until there are no clumps of sweet potato. Quickly
and lightly, stir in the milk mixture until the dry ingredient are
just blended.  Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups and bake for 25
min at 375, or until lightly browned.



Heroic Turkey November 18, 2008

Filed under: Recipe — blueheronlocal @ 5:13 pm
Tags: , , , ,

So you’re hosting Thanksgiving. Breathe. It will be okay. No Egrets and I have done this twice, and our relationship, my family, and ourselves survived each time. A few pieces of advice: Clean your house this weekend, and don’t let anyone through the door for the remaining three days before Thanksgiving. Stock up on cookies and drinks. If anyone starts getting cranky ply them with cookies, drinks, or both until they are happy again. Feel free to use this technique on yourself. Cook No Egrets’ beautiful Heroic Turkey. Take to your bed after the guests are gone, and stay there all day. Also read this.


Heroic Turkey
5 gallon food grade bucket
Fresh rosemary, thyme, sage
Black peppercorns, sea salt
2 magnums cheap white wine
Olive oil
Taters, turnips, onion, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes
Chicken stock
Ground chestnuts
Balsamic vinegar


Get a 5 gallon bucket (that your turkey fits into) from the hardware store
— just a white plastic food-grade bucket.

Stuff your bird into it.

Pour a large bottle of cheap pinot noir or white table wine over it.  Add
1/8 cup sea salt.

In a saucepan, heat 1 stick butter or 1/4 cup olive oil and saute an onion
until soft.  Add rosemary, bay, garlic, ginger, and 1/4 cup black
peppercorns to the oil.  Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, let
cool, and put in blender until it looks like salad dressing.  Pour into
bucket.  Cover with ice.

Put the bucket someplace cold for 24 hours.  If you don’t have a cold place
— a beer fridge or something — you can freeze the marinade and keep the
bucket on ice in a cooler (or outside if it is cold enough).

Grease the bottom of your roasting pan with olive oil.  Add cubes of potato,
parsnip, carrot, sweet potato, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper — make a
bed of starchy veggies.  Lay the bird on the bed.  Drain and discard all
liquid — it will look bloody and nasty.

Rub the skin of the bird with butter.  Take sprigs of rosemary and poke them
through the skin of the breast.  You can do this any way that looks nice —
just pull the skin away from the meat of the breast, and pack herbs under
there, or pierce the twigs of rosemary through.  To really make it
beautiful, I lace some thin-sliced bacon across the top, latticed with
rosemary twigs and bits of fresh thyme.  Fresh sage is a good one for
turkey, too — you need it in the stuffing.  Get some garlic and ginger
under the skin, too, or at least under the bacon.


Now, you need stuffing.

Heat 2 cups of Chicken stock in a stock pot, and let it reduce.  In a pan,
brown 1/2 lb. sausage in 1/4 stick of butter. Sautee chopped onion, celery,
black pepper, sage, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Pour all of this over 6-8
cups of toasted bread cubes.  Add broth until everything is coated, but
don’t overmix — you don’t want it all to disintegrate, though it’s ok if it
turns to meaty pudding, too.

I like ground nuts (chestnuts are great) in mine as well.  Walnuts and
pecans are great…pistachios….about 1/2 – 3/4 cup.

Pack the cavity of the bird right before it goes in the oven.  Never pack
the cavity the night before.

Corn bread stuffing works the same way — bake your cornbread ahead of time,
let it sit for a couple of days to dry out, and then toast it on a cookie
sheet before mixing the stuffing.


Follow Julia Child’s slow-roasting guidelines.


Don’t time your roast — use a meat thermometer.  They cost $10 at Bed Bath
& Beyond.

Good luck!

-goldlentil and no egrets


Drinking Locally November 10, 2008

Filed under: Drinking Locally — blueheronlocal @ 4:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,
(photo from by captjoe06)

(photo from by captjoe06)

Maybe the Eat Local Challenge has given you new resources for eating locally whenever possible. Maybe, like me, you did not participate in the Eat Local Challenge, but were inspired by other people’s hard work to find new ways to eat locally. We’re fortunate to live in Massachusetts, and not just because gay people can get married here.


It’s easy to sneer at the Alice Waters crowd: “Sure, eating locally all year round is a piece of cake when you live in Northern California; but what about March in New England when you haven’t seen a green vegetable in months and are beginning to worry about scurvy?!?” Although we can’t find local avocadoes sold for 10 for a dollar along the roadside, we can at least drink away the winter months in local style! (And gay people can’t get married anymore in California. Don’t get me started.). Last night, inspired by a challenge by No Egrets to find him a local milk stout, I did some research:


Beer is probably one of Massachusetts’ better local products. My favorite is the Berkshire Brewing Company’s line of delicious fresh beers. They are in South Deerfield, Mass., just down the road from Yankee Candles. They have 8 year-round ales ranging from Steel Rail IPA to Drayman’s Porter and 7 seasonal ales, such as Cabin Fever Ale, Raspberry Barley Wine, and Hefeweizen. The Coffeehouse Porter, my favorite beer ever as it combines dark beer with real coffee, is made with Dean’s Beans, a fair trade coffee roaster in Orange, Mass.


There are two breweries on the North Shore: Cape Ann Brewing Company and Mercury Brewing. Cape Ann Brewing Company based in downtown Gloucester. They make four beers: Fisherman’s Brew, Fisherman’s IPA, Fisherman’s Ale, and Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout. There are a few other beers that are forthcoming or available at the tasting room only. Fisherman’s Brew is a great medium ale and the Pumpkin Stout is subtle and tasty. Their brew pub should be open very soon (check them out at 27 Commercial St.). Also available is Fisherman’s Brew bread at Virgilio’s on Main St.


I drank Mercury Brewing Company’s Ipswich Ale in Cambridge when I first moved to New England and didn’t even know the North Shore existed (sorry, but it’s true!). You can find Ipswich Ale all around the Boston area. Their best product, in my mind, is their winter ale, which is light (but not too light!) and spicy, sure to keep you warm. Mercury Brewing Company also makes an impressive array of sodas in amazing flavors.


No local milk stout yet, but stay tuned for local spirits, and I don’t mean of the Salem variety.



Voting and other things you can do to improve the world November 3, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture — blueheronlocal @ 1:53 pm
Tags: , , , ,
(photo from

(photo from

Nov 4: Election day.  Perhaps the one day every four years where most
(ok, many) American citizens actively engage in our political system.
Your participation matters: the President sets the agenda, picks the
advisors, and influences the funding, application and even creation of
laws and the rules that enforce them.  So, please VOTE.

But you can engage beyond voting.  I’m sure some of you have called or
written your Reps and Senators about a bill– check out the websites
for the House and the Senate if you haven’t.  The most underused
system is commenting on proposed rules.  So what’s a rule?  And why do
they matter?

A rule is the method by which agencies interpret laws for action–
whether it is creating a program, ending a program, enforcing a ban,
etc.  Most laws are pretty stretchy (politically easier to pass), so
the rules are where political agendas can be acted out relativley
unseen.  But wait, transparency does exist!  You just have to know the
system: rules are required to have a public comment period (posted on
this handy website: and agencies are required to
respond to each comment and take them into account as they write the
final rule.

Right now, there is a rule about pasture and organic dairy open to
comment.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad (awful, like, what were they



Free Range Rootbeer November 2, 2008

Filed under: Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 1:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We recently discovered ginger brew from Maine Root, a Portland-based soft drink company. If you love the strong ginger candies you get at some Asian restaurants (like Pho Lemongrass in Brookline), this is your drink. Sweetened with fair trade organic sugarcane, this ginger beer achieves the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. The taste leans toward ginger rather than gingerbread. And it’s ethical drinking and almost local. The good folks at Maine Root make their Portland deliveries in a bio-diesel VW pickup. I bought my ginger brew at Green Meadow Farms, but you can probably find them at Whole Paycheck and City Feed as well.

You may be forgiven for thinking I do nothing all day but sit around and drink ginger beer. Posts have slowed, because I have started a new job. However, expect a post from groundcherry very, very soon.

PS Free range rootbeer is a real phenomenon. Check it out!