Spring at the Little Blue Cottage

Winters in Sullivan County can be cold and harsh, and spring creeps in very slowly with small splashes of color here and there. By the end of May, there is still no guarantee that the weather will be warm enough to plant your tomatoes, but the azaleas, rhododendrums and lilacs are ablaze and it’s time to pull out the lawn mower from winter storage. Sprinkled throughout the yard and woods around our house, the wildflowers start popping up.

I know spring is in full swing and summer is on its way when our local farmer’s market in Barryville opens for the season in mid May. There we see our favorite farmer, Greg from Willow Wisp Organic Farm, and Mark has long chats with the folks from Java Love Coffee from Bethel – Mark loves a good espresso.This year we also bought a few tomato seedlings from Silver Heights Farm Nursery after a mysterious blight took over our own little tomato seedlings.

In season now: Rhubarb!

Cake photo 1: One of my favorite rhubarb recipes (I skip the whisky cream and just go with ice cream or heavy cream): Country Rhubarb Cake

Cake photo 2: A rhubarb compote from Joy of Cooking (I added a little lemon zest) with a buttermilk cake made with fresh buttermilk from Tonjes Farm Dairy in Callicoon, NY.

Bread for two… plus dessert


I’ve had a couple of disastrous experiences baking with yeast – cinnamon rolls that could have been handy hockey puck replacements and a loaf of bread that, used strategically, could have been a very efficient and dangerous projectile weapon.  I’ve become a bit intimidated by the idea of working with yeast, but I love a good loaf of bread. So, a few years ago, in search of decent bread in Inwood, Mark and I bought a Zogirushi bread machine. With the limited counter and storage space in our apartment, the smaller one pound mini bread maker appealed to us. It’s the perfect size for two people – or one gluttonous person.


Now, if you’re looking for one of those wonderful crusty, earthy, chewy loaves of bread, book a flight to France. The bread machine is not going to deliver and I’m guessing that purists regard it on the same level of food sacrilege as biscuits in a tube and store-bought pie crust. But, if you want a good, standard loaf that is great for sandwiches and toast and a good fallback for general use – and love the smell of baking bread – the Zogirushi is great.

bread After exhausting the recipes in the booklet that came with the machine, I bought The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook. There are 300 recipes in this book, everything from your standard white bread to “Roquefort Cheese Bread with Walnuts” to hot dog rolls. I experimented with a few recipes, buying some of the harder to find ingredients online at King Arthur Flour and for awhile our apartment was a mini bread factory. Then the novelty wore off and the Inwood farmer’s market expanded to year round, so good bread became more readily available. Our little Zogi just sat tucked away, unused for a couple of years.

Recently I had the brilliant idea of bringing Zogi up to our cottage for the same reason that we bought it in the first place. Although our farmer’s market in Barryville offers us great bread in the warmer months, in the winter we have to drive at least 45 minutes to find a decent loaf. So Zogi is now back in action, and Saturday  was its re-inauguration.  It was a cold, rainy, foggy day and there’s nothing like the smell of baking bread to make you feel warm and cozy. I threw in the ingredients for my favorite brioche recipe and 3 hours and 40 minutes later I wrenched out a small loaf from the small pan – the blade on the bottom of the pan makes it a little bit of a struggle to get the loaf out of the pan, but it’s worth the work.


It was devoured with butter and a very tasty wine jelly from Eminence Road Winery  that we had picked up at our local farmer’s market before it closed for the season. It’s made from Gewurztraminer  – try saying that fives times fast…actually, just try saying it.

Our mini brioche was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner and there was even some left over for toast the next morning. A toasted slice of homemade bread with butter and jam and a cup of tea on a Sunday morning. Bliss.

Now, the brioche recipe required two egg yolks.

Hmmm…. what to do with the remaining egg whites?….