SKC Page 4: Avocado Dip

Next up: Avocado Dip, which is not guacamole, but could play it on tv.

We had a friend over for dinner recently, and therefore our first outside-taste-tester in the Small Kitchen Cookbook cook-down.

This is also one of the first times in the book  that the reader/home cook is presented with what seems to my late-Gen-X eyes to be a strange either/or combination. As we wrap this recipe, the instructions ask us to finish things off with the (ever-popular) parsley, or instead paprika.

Not for nothing, as my mid-western friends say, but those are some radically different flavors. That said, there are much more drastic choices to come in this book, so maybe reserve your judgement for then.

We start with halved avocados, and Mortellito counsels us that we can hold on to the pits if we are interested in growing new avocado trees. Points for early ecology — however, I live in the Northeast and don’t think I’m in an avocado-friendly environment. So we move on to mashing and adding ingredients. White pepper, another popular ingredient in this book, makes an appearance along with mayo, lemon, and onion salt.

The consistency at first is a bit gritty, but I made the dip the night before serving — at which time it was much smoother. We went with parsley as garnish, because we still have a field’s worth in our home herb garden. Plus, paprika reminds me of Deviled Eggs, and I hate those.

We figured tortilla chips counted as ‘corn or potato chips,’ so as directed,  we “arranged” them in a chip and dip bowl from Homegoods.

I’ll probably make this again; it was gone at the end of the night and it didn’t brown overnight, like guac often does. It was a little bit weird at first in the taste department though, because the tongue is expecting guacamole and, as we addressed, this isn’t that. But like green tea ice cream, it has an acquired taste.

I give this recipe three and a half bunches of jaunty cherries. Let me know if you make it with paprika, and if it was worth it.

The Small Kitchen Cookbook: Page Eight

My first foray into The Small Kitchen Cookbook was the super-straightforward Cucumber Dip.

Let’s break it down.

The cucumber part wasn’t hard, because we had a bumper crop in our home garden this year. In fact, other than potatoes and parsley, it was the only bumper crop we had. Did anyone else have this problem this year?

Starting with one large cucumber — per instructions — I peeled, sliced, and minced. The draining (of “ALL the liquid,” mind you) proved to be trickier. I placed them in a colander at first, but resorted to blotting the pieces with paper towels when that proved less-than-effective in making the cukes any less juicy. If I make this recipe again, I might roast the veggies first.

Next it was on to combining sour cream, sugar, dill (from the garden again), salt, and white pepper — one of the more popular ingredients in the entire book, I’ve found. Second only to parsley.

After mixing in the cucumbers it’s suggested, if the dip is too watery, to add two tablespoons of cream cheese. Don’t ponder this suggestion; just add it right in to the recipe. The dip is going to be watery (seriously, what is the trick to de-liquifying cucumber?) and the cream cheese is just the right antidote.

We chowed this dip with Wheat Thins ( it said to serve with favorite crackers, so), and since we were also charged with presenting it in a “small serving bowl,” we went with one of our beloved Paul Anthony stoneware pieces.

Herein, I debut our Recipe Rating System for The Small Kitchen Cookbook. I give this recipe three out of five jaunty bunches of cherries.

Political Punch

drink-19202_1280I’ve been working with the comedy troupe The Capitol Steps this summer, creating some fun promotional and content pieces with them and the team hosting their summer residence, at Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort’s new Harvest Barn stage. Recently I teamed up with a local bartender to concoct two summer sangrias — one sweet and one with a little spice — to celebrate the ‘Steps and their satire domination in the Berkshires.

Check out the recipes below, and share your own versions using the hashtag #CapitolCocktails!

Red, Sweet, and Blue

A sweet tea and berry-based sangria. Serves 12.

55 oz. sweet tea

750 ml Sweet red wine (recommended: Bota Box Redvolution)

2 cups mixed-berry juice

2 lbs. strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries — hulled and sliced

 

Baby, You’re a Firework

A whiskey- and wine-based sangria with a little spark. Serves four.

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

1/3 cup Fireball Whiskey – soak the chopped apple in the whiskey, preferably over night

3/4 cup apple juice

1 orange, sliced

1 blood orange, sliced

1 cup red wine (recommended: Malbec)

Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort is offering a chance to laugh off some election-year stress throughout the summer, hosting the award-winning musical satire group The Capitol Steps for a limited run of performances, from July 1 to Sept. 2. The troupe will be the first to perform on Cranwell’s new Harvest Barn stage, a 220-seat venue.

The Capitol Steps began as a group of congressional staffers who set out to satirize the very people who employed them. Now in its 35th year, the show has since evolved to feature 26 actors and five pianists, who stage shows across the United States.

This year’s show is largely based on songs from The Capitol Steps’ current album What To Expect When You’re Electing, featuring tunes that give a comedic nod to some of our most pressing political issues: “Ain’t No Pipeline, Now It’s Gone,” “Hello, Is it Mitt You’re Looking For?” and “We Warm the World” among them.

The Capitol Steps’ 90-minute show will be performed nightly, excluding Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort offers pre-show dining from 4:30 to 6:30 at its Wine Spectator Award-winning restaurant in the Gilded Age Mansion, as well as casual fare at Sloane’s Restaurant and Bar. Show tickets and an optional dinner may be reserved directly by calling (413) 881-1636, or online at cranwell.com. For more information on Capitol Steps, visit capsteps.com.

Recipes developed by Mitchell Keil

Cool Weather Comfort Foods that Won’t Make You Fat

A Blogtoberfest Guest Post by Kaitlyn Pierce, founder of Willow House magazine

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Fall is a time for sweaters, fires, and packing on the pounds while staying curled up on the couch to indulge in some binge eating and Downton Abby marathons on Netflix. Being pregnant with my second child has made it even more enticing to scarf down any piece of delicious looking food that comes my way.

“You’re pregnant, you can eat whatever you want!” is what I hear all day long. As much as I’d love to ignore everything I’ve ever learned about my health and believe this, I know that I can’t just sit around eating my weight in macaroni and cheese all day.

So what is a woman with an addiction to comfort food supposed to do in the fall to satisfy the cravings and not end up needing an entirely new wardrobe (not that I won’t end up with one anyway) come summer? I’m so happy you asked! I have found a couple of deliciously satisfying recipes that won’t make you fat and won’t take to much time away from any of your Netflix marathons.

White Bean and Kale Stew

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I tried this recipe for the first time last fall and fell in love with it. Not only is it super simple to make (by that I mean I spent very little time standing up in the kitchen and more time on the couch eating), it is a great meal to make for my vegetarian friends (and vegan if you remove the cheese!) that is still 100% satisfying to my husband, my two year old, and I who enjoy our fair share of local and organic meats.

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Another huge perk to the dish is all of that fresh kale in each serving. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, is high in fiber, iron and vitamin A, C and K. Kale is also a great anti-inflammatory food with powerful antioxidants. How’s that for some guilt free eating?

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Chickpea, Tomato and Spelt Soup

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I had never had spelt in my life until recently when I came across this recipe. As I mentioned before, comfort food has always been my food of choice, spelt never was on the menu.  So I was feeling particularly adventurous and decided to try something new, I figured if I hated it my husband (the human garbage disposal) would eat it.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the spelt’s delicious nutty flavor. It is high in protein and fiber and is also a good source of calcium, magnesium and iron. This recipe has 437 calories per serving and thanks to all of that protein it was incredibly filling so there was actually some left for my husband to eat when I was done.

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What are some of your favorite cool weather recipes?

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 2.35.06 PMKaitlyn Pierce is the Editor-in-Chief of Willow House magazine, and blogs regularly at Mohawks and Lilacs. Growing up in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts assured that Kaitlyn would be a true New England girl. She is a die-hard New England sports fan, lover of all things visual, and local fashion activist working to bring more fashion to the Berkshires.