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2014 Vermont To-Do List

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

Try to do something special each month to get the most out of living in Vermont. Photo by Julianne Puckett.

Try to do something special each month to get the most out of living in Vermont. Photo by Julianne Puckett.

I try not to make New Year’s resolutions because they’re usually not specific enough or too hard to keep. And I don’t know about you, but starting out a new year as a failure doesn’t seem very inspirational.

But this year I made a little personal bucket list for myself — a variety of events and activities that happen throughout Vermont that I haven’t yet engaged in, even after living here for nearly four years. There’s so much to do and see in our great state, so I have resolved to make taking part more of a priority in 2014.

Here’s my list of one event or activity that I hope to do or see in each month of 2014 in order to get to know my state a bit better. Won’t you join me?

January: Free Ice Fishing Day, sponsored by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

February: Take a dogsled ride

March: Vermont Chili Festival in Middlebury

April: Made in Vermont Trade Show at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex

May: KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay in Burlington (note: I will be CHEERING ON the runners, not participating!)

June: Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival

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Pumpkinpalooza!

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

pumpkinWe’ve finished October and are into November: Are you sick of pumpkin yet?

I swear, as soon as Labor Day was over, it was a veritable pumpkinpalooza all over. The jokes and memes started abounding on Facebook and via e-mail (“Prepare for pumpkin everything!”), and you couldn’t look at a food-related website without being smacked in the face with some kind of pumpkin recipe.

And don’t get me started on Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes.

I, as a food blogger, refused to succumb. Early autumn is the the time to celebrate apples, pears and all the other ugly, misshapen fruits and root vegetables that I harvest from my farmette. I spent the whole month of September celebrating pears and apples and butternut squash (oh my).

But, once the calendar pages turned to October, I too was ready to give pumpkin its due. Here are some of  the more interesting ways that I enjoyed the pumpkin harvest this fall:

  • Bourbon Apple Pumpkin Butter: Slow-cooked in a crockpot, this butter is equally enjoyable slathered on toast, mixed into oatmeal or served next to a pork roast.crockpot_pumpkin_bread
  • Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread: Yes, you really can bake bread in your crockpot! It’s moist and delicious.
  • Red Pepper Pumpkin Soup: Nothing is more warming on a cool fall day that a nice bowl of soup — and it’s even better loaded with veggies.
  • Maple Pumpkin Mini Muffins: A sweet treat that can serve double duty as a quick, easy breakfast and a lunchbox snack.

Did I miss any of your favorites? Please just let me know: I’ll need to find new, exciting ways of cooking up pumpkin again come October of next year. Right now, I think I need one of those lattes before it’s time to start Christmas shopping.

When Life Gives You Ugly Fruit …

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

pear_butter2All photos by Julianne Puckett.

After three years of tending my wee orchard in Jericho, I finally have a glut of fall fruit.

This is amazing and rewarding to me, after both the Great Pear Theft of 2011, in which some deer and possibly a bear ate all the pears right at harvest time, and the Great Season of No Fruit At All of 2012, thanks to our wacky Vermont weather. Although, to be fair, the animal thieves did teach me that I could harvest the fruit by shaking the tree while I waited for my fancy new fruit picker to be delivered.

In our orchard, we have two pear trees — a seckel and a bartlett (I think) — a bunch of apple trees, two sour cherry trees, one plum tree and one peach. The peach tree must have heard me talking about how I thought it was dead and was going to cut it down, because this year, it yielded a number of peaches in protest (think Monty Python’s “I’m not dead yet!” skit from Spamalot).

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