The Farmette Cookbook [Review]

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I fell in love with Imen McDonnell’s blog Farmette long before she released her cookbook early 2016. Originally working in broadcast production, Imen met and married an Irish farmer and essentially uprooted her life to move to Ireland. Looking at the gorgeous photos that she posts on her blog of her life in the Irish countryside – who wouldn’t?

When I heard about The Farmette Cookbook, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on it. In the age of the internet and Pinterest with its slew of yummy recipes, for me to actually want to own physical cookbook is proof as to how magical her writing is. I added the book to my Christmas list and was thrilled when it appeared under my Christmas tree. Traveling home with my boyfriend from my mom’s house, I couldn’t help but to share my excitement with him as I flipped through the pages.

“Oh my god babe! There is a chapter on making items from dairy.”

A few minutes later.

“Oh my god babe! There is an ENTIRE chapter on just potatoes!”

I’m sure it was a long ride back home for him.

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Even months later as I flipped through it yet again, I found myself still completely in love with every page. This cookbook can easily be considered one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes tend to be more on the simple side (i.e. rustic) but produce fantastic results (such as the dairy section which shows you how to make items such as cream cheese or sour cream). The ingredients either already exist in my pantry or could be picked up at my local grocery store.

Some of my personal picks from this cookbook are:

  • Buttered Eggs (page 10) – A seemingly simple recipe that produces a rich, buttery flavor in eggs. This is a great recipe to use the fresh eggs from our girls.
  • Best Brown Bread (page 41) – Long before Imen’s cookbook was published, I found her blog by doing a search for an Irish brown bread recipe. I came across this easy recipe and fell in love with her blog.
  • Sweet Farmer Cheese Danish with Elderflower Glaze (page 135) – A danish is the perfect addition to a weekend breakfast and the idea of making it from scratch tickles me. Plus, you get to use the Basic Farmer Cheese recipe from page 12 as well! The use of Elderflower in recipes is still a bit of a novelty stateside I think.
  • Pasty Pies (page 185) – I love anything wrapped in pie dough and this recipe will lead to a delicious end product without a lot of work.
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken (page 237) – Now this might get my Southern card revoked, but I have never made fried chicken. It just seems so labor intensive to me (even though I know it’s not). Imen’s recipe looks so nice and crispy that I think I’ll give it a shot one day.

I can’t say this enough – go and buy this book. You won’t regret it.

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Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Shrubs

For March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, we had the option of choosing between making a jelly or making a shrub. Since making a shrub has been on my agenda for a while, I decided to go with that option. We already have quite a few jars of grapes jelly canned so it was nice to have the option to try something else.

So exactly what is a shrub? There are a couple of different beverages that go under this category – one being liquor mixed with sugar and citrus, the other being what we are going to focus on. Popular during the American Colonial area, a shrub (also known as drinking vinegar) is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar left to infuse for a few days to create this wonderfully sweet/tart liquid. The resulting liquid can be added to cocktails, sparkling water (for a healthy drink that gives you the feel of soda), salad dressing, or really anything you can think of. It was developed as a way to help preserve berries and fruits at the end of season.

Food in Jars recommends a ratio of 1:1:1one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a handful of fruit – easy enough, right?

March isn’t exactly the best month around here for fresh, local fruit. It’ll be another month or so before strawberries start popping up in the fields and our fruit trees have only just began to bloom. That’s sort of a bummer to me as it feels a bit like cheating to purchase fruit from the grocery store.

I already knew that I wanted my shrub to have ginger. I love ginger (in fact, I just purchased plants a few days ago to grow my own ginger to get fresh-fresh ginger). I combed the grocery store looking for the best looking fruits before settling on a mixture of blueberries and blackberries. Robb loves both of those berries so I knew that he would enjoy eating what I didn’t use.

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In a quart mason jar, I added one cup of berries and one cup of organic cane sugar, muddling them together. Then I added 1 cup of vinegar. In any other circumstance, I would have used apple cider vinegar, but I had a bottle of homemade peach vinegar in my pantry that I had purchased from my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

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I gave everything a quick stir and grated about a 1.5 -inch piece of ginger on top. Stirring one more, I covered the jar with a lid and stuck it in the fridge.

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After two days in the fridge, I did a quick strain (to get out more of the pulp, you’ll probably want to use cheesecloth or something similar). The leftover berries went straight to the chickens! I packaged my finished shrub in a leftover Kombucha bottle.

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Eager to try it out, I poured a glass of water and added a bit of my shrub – yum! I want to pick up some sparkling water for next time, but I loved the almost kombucha-like taste of this shrub.

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Two Roads Tavern [Outer Banks]

This weekend was a cold, rainy weekend in Northeastern North Carolina. We even experienced snow flurries on Sunday (none of the snow flurries had the opportunity to stick as the ground was already so saturated). My initial plan for this weekend was to venture up to Williamsburg, Virginia to scoop out their farmer’s market but once I saw the weather forecast, I changed my plans and decided to take a drive to the Outer Banks.

Our agenda was simple: Duck Donuts, Two Roads Tavern, and the Manteo Aquarium. I came across Two Roads Tavern’s website a few months ago and have been interested in trying their food since then. Two Roads Tavern is a burger joint with a neat retro vibe inside. But the burgers aren’t just your regular run of the meal burgers. They are a mix of 80/20 Hereford ground chuck combined with amazing toppings. Now, you can build your own burger but I scoped out the menu and knew I wanted one of their Specialty Burgers.

We started with the Cajun Fried Cheese Curds served with a Jamaican jerk aioli that we couldn’t get enough of. The cheese curds were crunchy and flavorful and the gooey cheese inside was just what we needed on a dreary day.

I ordered the Hangover [bacon, hash browns, fried egg, and cheddar cheese with maple bacon jam] while Robb ordered the Sounds Good [American cheese, BBQ sauce, bacon, onion rings, jalapenos, and a fried egg]. I ended up stealing a couple of Robb’s jalapenos (I trades him a hash brown for some) and he opted out of the BBQ sauce, instead requesting Jamaican jerk aioli on his burger – the sauce was that good. Even though the menu says no substitutions, they were willing to accommodate his request.

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“Sounds Good”
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“Hangover”

Though I didn’t try Robb’s burger, mine was absolutely delicious. The meat was juicy and the flavors melded together well. The maple bacon jam gave my burger a whole “French toast” vibe that I loved. It was like eating breakfast!

The burgers come with hand-cut fries that were perfect. I couldn’t get enough of them and continued to shove them in to my mouth like I was starving.

All in all, this place is awesome. The food is delicious and the entire staff is great. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about eating out at a place.

We followed up our lunch with a quick jaunt to Duck Donuts. I cannot say enough good things about this place and I plan my Outer Banks trips around getting my donuts. Even though we showed up near closing time, they had donuts left and were more than happy to fix us right up.

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Don’t worry – it rained on the box but the donuts were safe and warm inside.
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Cinnamon Sugar | Chocolate Glazed with Peanuts| Powdered Sugar | Blueberry with Powdered Sugar (a surprise favorite)

Continuing our beach adventure, we made our way down to the Manteo Aquarium. I hadn’t been there since they completed the sea turtle conversation area and enjoyed looking at their work. The last time I was at the aquarium, the otters weren’t out so I was tickled when I saw them swimming about. Robb attempted to touch a sting ray at the touch tank but every time one drew close, they would suddenly realize he was there and ran away from him.

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Sharks!
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The sea turtle conservation area – and I managed not to be a single good shot of a sea turtle.
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Alligators!

Even though it was raining, we didn’t let it ruin our fun and explored the Nature Play Area/Nature Trail. It was great fun and made us both feel like children again! I can’t wait to go back to the aquarium once they have their jellyfish exhibit complete.

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[Note: I just got a new cellphone on Friday so during this trip, I relied only on my cellphone for photos. I still need to play with the built-in camera so that I can take better quality photos without lugging around my big camera. I might have accidentally turned on MACRO for some of these.]

Two Roads Tavern
3105 N. Croatan Hwy (Milepost 5.5)

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
In The Seagate North Shopping Center
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

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