A New Year's Benediction


“I have come to believe that, by and large, the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. 

It is important to tell, at least from time to time, the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are, and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. 

It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives, and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.” 

Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets


2017: Leave-takings, Regeneration, Legacy, and Bearing Witness


Work Song Part II - A Vision (Epilogue)

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
there, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…

The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.

The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

~ Wendell Berry


Poetry has the power to take my breath away and Berry's poem did just that when I read it a few months ago. His words captured what I've been feeling -- that struggle and hardship are (and have always been) intricately tied to creation and redemption. 2017 was a strange brew of heart-rending and heart-opening moments and I've been struggling to find a way to wrap my arms around it -- to find peace with a year that delivered leave-takings, new beginnings, and opportunities to bear witness as the world, and our place in it, changed. 

It was a year that left me reeling in a number of ways -- good friends and a beloved family member walked on, Sadie graduated from high school, Jack graduated from college, my cookbook Life in a Northern Town was released, we hatched a plan for a cookery school in our kitchen, I settled into a fulfilling job at the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, and the political scene at the national and state levels left me, by turns, deeply discouraged and cautiously hopeful. Talk about being shaken, stirred, and rattled -- it was a regular smorgasbord of emotions. 


To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to carry with me into 2018. Looking back, it seems almost surreal -- the goodness was nearly always softened by a bittersweet awareness that new beginnings, by their very nature, involve leaving something behind. And that was a tough one for me, the realization that as I grow older there will be more leave-takings than beginnings and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. 

It got me thinking -- can I make peace with grief, regeneration, and change that's out of my control? Where do I fit in a world that's become deeply divided and increasingly unstable? How do I, as Berry suggested, stand in this "ruined place, renewing, enriching it…then a long time after we are dead the lives our lives prepare will live there, their houses strongly placed upon the valley sides…" without losing my mind?


On a trip to Madison, I found my answer in the form of a podcast and an Irishwoman named Mary Kate O'Flanagan on the Moth Radio Hour. Mary Kate told the story of her father's death in Carry Him Shoulder High and I was struck by the following two sentences: 

"But thank God, if there's one thing the Irish do right, it's death. English you say, 'I'm sorry for your trouble' but in Irish we say 'Táim imo sheasamh leat' (I'm standing with you) and we mean it literally."

Leave-takings, change, and the inevitable moving on can be bitter pills to swallow....even when I'm headed in the right direction. The phrase 'I'm standing with you', as opposed to 'I'm sorry', implies solidarity and companionship. It's an active phrase, one that says I'm here, I'll bear witness, I'm not going away, we'll start where we stand and make the road by walking, together. It's an anecdote to division, anger, and grief -- something we desperately need right now. 

And that's what I'm carrying into 2018. The promise that I intend to stand with my family, my friends, and my community -- no matter what happens. I've abandoned any expectations for a smooth transition though the challenging days ahead in the political arena but I wholeheartedly believe that by standing together, we have a helluva shot at bringing the last stanza of Berry's poem to life, "Memory, native to this valley, will spread over it like a grove, and memory will grow into legend, legend into song, song into sacrament. The abundance of this place, the songs of its people and its birds, will be health and wisdom and indwelling light. This is no paradisal dream. Its hardship is its reality."

So, hello 2018 -- I'm ready to roll with whatever you toss at me because I'm standing with my people...and I'm exactly where I belong. 


It's All About George


This is a first for me -- publishing a blog post because I just found a great photo of George. But really, it is a helluva photo of our handsome boy. I took these photos on a late fall afternoon -- the  viscous, golden light (perfect lighting for a yellow Lab) inspired me to grab my camera and capture a few shots from the Dougherty compound. 


Pheasant and Duck Rillettes with Pistachio and Cranberries


Rillettes is a fancy French name for a meat spread with a lot of fat......and I'm glad I've made its acquaintance. This was my first crack at pheasant rillettes and it turns out, it's super easy to put together. It's a mostly hands-off process with a little shredding, chopping, and mixing at the very end. And strangely enough, I think this will make a good BWCA lunch if I vacuum-seal it in plastic.....eating civilized food is key to my camping enjoyment. 


This is a pretty rich snack and it benefits from the tempering influence of a good Dijon mustard and a cornichon. It's also a little salty when you first put everything together but once it sits and cools off in the refrigerator, its saltiness diminishes and its meaty richness comes shining through. It keeps for about 2 months in the refrigerator (with a decent amount of fat on the top to seal it) but I've heard you can freeze it for up to 6 months with success -- I'll let you know how it holds up. 


Pheasant Rillettes

2 whole pheasants, backbones removed
4 duck breasts, skin-on
1/2 pound pancetta, finely chopped
2 cups sherry
1 cup butter, plus more if needed
1 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons orange zest
3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced and divided
2 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced and divided

Combine 3 tablespoons orange zest, 2 tablespoons rosemary, 1/2 tablespoons thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and rub all over the pheasant, inside and out. Place on a sheet tray or bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 4 - 6 hours. 

Remove the fat from each duck breast, cut into small pieces, and place in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the duck fat pieces. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about another 30 - 45 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the fat is rendered. If the fat need a little longer, just add a more water and continue to simmer.  Once the water has evaporated, fry the skin over medium heat until it’s crispy. Remove the skin from the rendered fat and discard. Place the fat in a bowl and set aside. 

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter and then add the pancetta, onion, 1 teaspoon of thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until onion has softened and the pancetta is golden brown. Add the sherry, pheasants, and duck breast to the stockpot and add more melted butter if the meat isn’t submerged (you want all the meat to be covered with liquid). 

Simmer over medium-low heat (checking every now and then to make sure the meat is still submerged) for 4 hours. Uncover the pot for the last hour or so, to evaporate the liquid and leave you with primarily fat and meat in the pot. 

Let cool and then shred all the meat and place in a bowl with the fat from the cooking pot (if there is still some non-fat liquid in the pot, you can add it if you want. Otherwise, toss it out) . Add the minced shallot, cranberries, pistachios, and remaining 1 tablespoon of rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix to thoroughly combine. Pack into jars, it'll keep in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 months. 


Roasted Onions


Sometimes simple is best. These onions are incredibly easy to throw together and are the perfect accompaniment to the Porchetta Pork Chops recipe I posted a few days ago. They are surprisingly rich-tasting, given the abbreviated ingredient list, and are good at room temperature as well. 


These onions are going into heavy rotation in my kitchen this holiday season. They are just hedonistic enough to hold their own but confident enough to play second fiddle to porchetta, roasted chicken, or a beef tenderloin. You could substitute shallots, if you want to get fancy! 


Roasted Red Onion with Butter, Honey, and Balsamic Vinegar

4 red onions, halved
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (don’t use your expensive vinegar, grocery-store balsamic is just fine)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the butter, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes, until it’s reduced slightly. 

Place the onions, cut-side up, on the sheet tray and brush half of the butter mixture over them. Roast for about 20 minutes and then brush the remaining butter mixture on and back for another 25 minutes, or until they are soft and caramelized. 

Chicken Board with Roasted VEgetables & Vinaigrette


Food inspiration comes in all sorts of packages and in the case of this chicken board -- it came from the magical world of Instagram and their algorithms. One morning, bright and early thanks to Aldo and his tiny bladder, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and a picture of a pile of chicken, potatoes, and greens on a wooden board flew by and I quickly started back-pedaling (or whatever scrolling backwards is called) to figure out what that amazing photo was all about. 


Turns out it was all about a restaurant in Aspen called Meat & Cheese Restaurant Farm Shop that has a variety of different boards topped with all sorts of good stuff: sausage, steak, bread, biscuits, and pate. Needless to say, if I end up in Aspen anytime in the future -- I know where I'm eating dinner. 


I did a quick Google search to see if there were any recipes on-line for the chicken and vinaigrette  and came up empty handed so I opened my fridge and grabbed my old stand-bys: preserved lemon, harissa, and some fresh herbs. This meal is really about the vinaigrette and presentation, you can make any sort of roasted chicken and vegetables you'd like. Since a major component of the vinaigrette is the chicken/pan juices, I decided to make a flavorful compound butter in order to ensure the vinaigrette is top-notch. But if you prefer a more mild-flavored vinaigrette, you can leave the harissa and preserved lemons out of the picture. 


Chicken Board with Roasted Vegetables and Vinaigrette

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon preserved lemon, minced
1 tablespoon harissa
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, 4 - 5 pounds
Vegetables for roasting (I used carrots, potatoes, and onions), tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper
Fresh greens (I used arugula and spring mix) dressed with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper


1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of champagne or white-wine vinegar
All of the pan drippings (in order to get as much of the good chicken juices as possible, let the chicken rest, on the pan with the vegetables, for 5 - 10 minutes. Cover the chicken/vegetables with aluminum foil to keep it warm while it’s resting)

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients for the compound butter except chicken, vegetables and fresh greens and mix thoroughly. Spatchcock the chicken (cut out the backbone and then flatten with your hands, pressing in between the breasts). Loosen the chicken skin over the breasts, thighs and legs and rub the compound butter under the skin. Rub any remaining butter on the outside of the bird, place on the parchment lined sheet tray, and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and place the vegetables around the chicken. Place in oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the breasts and thighs reach 165 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, shallot, Dijon, and vinegar and set aside.

Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, covered (see above). Cut the chicken into pieces and place it on a large platter or wooden board with the vegetables and greens. Quickly whisk in the pan juices and drippings into the Dijon/vinegar and serve immediately alongside the chicken, vegetables, and greens. 


Porchetta Pork Chops

I've just realized this is my third blog post in as many days and I bet you're wondering what on earth is going on?? My bloggery has been spotty, at best, for the last year or so but I've been stockpiling recipes and photos...and I've decided to clear the queue to make way for all the food and essays I have planned for 2018! 

So today, I give you porchetta pork chops. The first meal I made for our Italian exchange student, Joele, who lived with us last year -- I figured it was a good way to welcome an Italian boy into the Dougherty clan. I love the porchetta roast from Fraboni's in Madison -- it's made the proper way with a pork belly rolled up with spices and fresh herbs.  But since I didn't have a spare pork belly in the freezer, I settled on a close second -- thick-cut, bone-in chops from a butcher near Hudson, WI (thanks to our pork connection -- Eric). 


Porchetta Pork Chops

8 pork chops, bone-in
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, toast the crushed red pepper and fennel seeds until fragrant (about 2 minutes) and then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the pork chops and olive oil) and add the ground fennel and red pepper.

Cut a 1 1/2 inch slit into each pork chop about 1 teaspoon of the spice mix into each pork chop. Put the remaining spice mix on the outside of each pork chop and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 4 - 6 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a cast iron skillet over medium-high and (in three batches) cook the pork chops about 3 minutes per side, or until browned but not cooked through. Place each completed batch of pork chops on an unlined sheet tray or large roasting pan and when you have all the chops browned, place in the oven for 7 - 10 minutes, or until the reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Let rest, uncovered, for about 5 minutes and then serve.

Clementine Olive Oil Cake


I can't believe I spent a good portion of my 48 years on this planet cardamom-free but now that we've become acquainted, it's been absolutely lovely. Between the Swedish meatballs, gingersnaps, and this clementine cake, I'm a convert this pungent and warm spice. While I'll never forget my stalwart spice companions like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger -- I suspect cardamom will find its way into all sorts of dishes in my kitchen!


Citrus season is such a welcome part of winter. I love the abbreviated, cold, and snowy days of winter but the grocery store aisles full of oranges, lemons, clementines, and grapefruit are a bright counterpoint to our white-washed landscape. This cake has a good balance of citrusy and warm, herbaceous flavors (from the cardamom, olive oil, and rosemary) that's nice after a hearty meal like stew or an Indian curry. It keeps very well and is the perfect tea-time treat as well. 


Clementine Olive Oil Cake
(inspired by Food 52's Clementine Pound Cake)

12 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (1 teaspoon if you're using freshly ground cardamom)
1 tablespoon clementine zest
1/3 cup fresh clementine juice
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup fresh clementine juice

Heat the oven to 350F. Butter and line a 8 inch x 3 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, olive oil and sugars together on medium speed until light and smooth, about 3 - 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium, mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely blended. 

Stir in 1 cup of the flour, followed by the salt, baking powder, vanilla, cardamom, rosemary, clementine zest and juice and combine thoroughly. Add the sour cream and the rest of the flour. Beat until the batter is smooth and consistent, but do not over-beat!

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the edges are browned and just pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. While the cakes cooling, mix the confectioner's sugar and clementine juice together until smooth. After 10 minutes, poke holes the cake and pour the glaze over the cake and let sit for another 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan, and place on the wire rack to cool completely.


A Really Good Vegan Tomato Soup


I really like to have soup in the freezer. It's kind of like an insurance policy -- it gives me peace of mind when I'm either fresh out of ideas for lunch/dinner or I'm too lazy to get crackin' in the kitchen. And since our family includes vegetarians and dairy-free types, I figured -- why not shake it up a little and go vegan??


In this case, we had a bunch of canned tomatoes from 2016 that needed a purpose and I was hungry for a tomato soup on the lighter side.....which was the perfect starting place for a vegan soup. I've found that Indian and Thai are my go-to starting points when I'm looking for dairy-free and vegetarian meal ideas. I have a fantastic vegetarian cookbook called Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen and I figured she'd have a good recipe. And I was right -- seriously good tomato soup, vegan-style!


A Really Good Vegan Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow or red onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 28-ounce tomatoes, crushed or diced
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons samba oelek (red chile paste)
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

Over medium heat, heat the coconut oil in a stock-pot and add the onions and cumin seeds. Cook until the onions are soft, about 8 - 10 minutes. Stir in the spices, ginger, garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until the spices are fragrant, and then add the water. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, sambal oelek, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine, cover the stockpot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Very carefully add the soup in batches to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the pureed soup to stockpot and add lime juice. Taste for seasoning and serve (I served it with cilantro and crumbled queso frsco but it's equally as good without cheese). 


When Life Gives You Green Tomatoes Part Two


I have to admit that I tend towards Darwinian gardening -- if the plant can survive a fair amount of benign neglect interspersed with sporadic weeding/fertilizing/watering, it'll likely do well in my garden. And if not, I make a mental note to avoid those plants that didn't thrive in the future and we both move on. Except when it comes to tomatoes. For some reason, hope springs eternal and I keep planting them.


Every year, I plant San Marzanos, Big Boys, Mortgage Lifters, Super Sweet 100s, and Sungolds and every year, it's a crap shoot. The cherry tomatoes tend to rise to the challenge but the others languish on the vine, remaining resolutely green. To be fair, we have a number of very large pine trees that block to sun and it's hard to find a spot in our yard that gets 6 hours of unfiltered sunlight....our raised beds aren't exactly in the best tomato-growing spot. Needless to say, I've become familiar with green tomatoes and what to do with them. This year, I decided to look into pickling and chutney -- and I haven't been disappointed. Turns out green tomatoes are a Darwinian gardener's dream. 


Green Tomato and Apple Chutney

2 pounds green tomatoes, rough chopped
2 apples, peeled and rough chopped
1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
1 - 2 dried chiles, soaked in water and minced (remove the seeds if you want prefer a less spicy chutney)
1/3 cup fresh ginger, rough chopped
1 cup apple cider
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour, or until the consistency is thick and syrupy. 

Pour the hot mixture directly into sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit undisturbed for 24 hours, then store in a dark, cool place. Will keep for at least a year.

When Life Gives You Green Tomatoes, Part One


My tomatoes had a rough summer and I've come to the conclusion I had better expand my green tomato reportoire beyond  breaded and fried. The Sun Golds and Super Sweet 100's decided to make the best of it and ripen nicely but all the other tomato plants in the garden opted to stay I started to research what to do with a pile of green tomatoes.  


I figure any plant that puts forth the effort to produce food for us deserves a commitment on my part to use it....even it means under-ripe but perfectly formed little tomatoes. Green tomatoes have a crisp texture and a clean, tangy flavor that make them well-suited for pickling and I was hoping they would keep their crisp texture when they emerged from the water bath (and they did). I minced up a handful of them a few days ago and put them on top of a chicken curry -- perfect use of tomatoes grown in a cold northern town!


Curried and Pickled Green Tomatoes

2 pounds green tomatoes, rinsed and sliced or quartered (depending on the size of your tomatoes)
2 jalapeños, sliced
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
1 4-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
I lime, zest cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 - 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
Handful of cilantro sprigs
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek

Heat a large stockpot or canner with water and bring to a boil. 

Heat the water, vinegar, sugar, curry powder, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. While the water/vinegar mixture is heating up, divide the sliced/quartered green tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, ginger, lime zest, cilantro, garlic, and spices between the prepared (sterilized) canning jars. Pour the water/vinegar mixture into each canning jar, leave about a 1/2-inch headspace at the top, place the lids on, and screw on the rings until just finger-tight.

Carefully transfer the jars to the stockpot/canner. When all the jars are in the canner, there should be at least 1 inch water covering them; if you need more, add water from the kettle until the jars are sufficiently covered. Bring the water to a full rolling boil, and process for 5 minutes. Using canning tongs, gently remove the jars from the stockpot/canner and transfer them to a kitchen towel or cooling rack, keeping them vertical. Leave to cool, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours. Store in a cool/dark place for up to one year. 


Pickled Jalapeños -- Peppers with a Message

Two things alerted me that Meghan was going to be the newest member of the Dougherty clan fourteen years ago -- 1) I got weepy while listening to Lullaby, a song by Trout Fishing in America, driving back to Bayfield from the beach in Cornucopia and 2) I was craving pickled jalapeños.

The summer of 2002, I was living on the boat with the kids when the weepy/pickled jalapeños calling card came and rather than take the pregnancy test in Bayfield without Ted, I decided to head back to St Paul. On our way home, I met Liz, my sister, at Grandma's Sports Garden in Duluth for lunch and my suspicions about the fifth Dougherty child were confirmed -- all I could think about was a plate of nachos with a pile of pickled jalapeños on top.

This jalapeño craving wasn't a new thing for me -- I always had a hankering for spicy food when I was pregnant. I couldn't get enough jalapeño poppers when I was pregnant with Jack and in fact, it was a jalapeño popper lunch at Pasqual's in Uptown that jump-started my labor with him. I guess pregnancy messages come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors......and pickled jalapeños are still a staple in our kitchen, even if our baby days are over! 

Pickled Jalapeños

2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 pounds jalapeños, sliced and seeded (keep the seeds if you like it spicy)
1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
1/4 cup peppercorns
7 garlic cloves
A couple of sprigs of oregano
Handful of lime slices

Heat a large stockpot or canner with water and bring to a boil. 

Heat the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. While the water/vinegar mixture is heating up, divide the sliced jalapeños, cilantro, peppercorns, garlic, oregano, and limes among 6 or 7 half-pint sterilized canning jars. Pour the water/vinegar mixture into each canning jar, leave about a 1/2-inch headspace at the top, place the lids on, and screw on the rings until just finger-tight.

Carefully transfer the jars to the stockpot/canner. When all the jars are in the canner, there should be at least 1 inch water covering them; if you need more, add water from the kettle until the jars are sufficiently covered. Bring the water to a full rolling boil, and process for 5 minutes. Using canning tongs, gently remove the jars from the stockpot/canner and transfer them to a kitchen towel or cooling rack, keeping them vertical. Leave to cool, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours. Store in a cool/dark place for up to one year. 

Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Treats for the Pups


When Henry, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure I did the only thing I knew how to do -- I started cooking. In retrospect, it was the medicine that helped him live an additional two years, but I like to believe that these pumpkin biscuits helped a little as well. They have become a staple in our house and while I'm sure the boys don't mind when the treat jar is full of store-bought treats, I swear they prefer my pumpkin biscuits! Though it's tough to tell because they are world-champion gobblers of anything food-related. 


These treats are loaded with anti-inflammatory spices (turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon) and chia seeds, a good source of protein and antioxidants. The dogs know when I'm making them (must be the very distinctive smell, just ask Ted.....he's not a fan) and they position themselves between the center island and the oven so they can keep an eye on the mixing, rolling, and cutting......three self-appointed canine kitchen inspectors. 


Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

4 cups whole wheat flour
3 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) 
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, flax seeds, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt in a bowl. Add water as needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough out to about a 1/2 inch thickness and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until hard.


Launching & Selling Books


Well, it's official -- I wrote a cookbook and we had a launch party to celebrate. I remember when I signed the contract with the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2014, the release date seemed a lifetime away but it turns out, 2017 was just the right amount of time I needed to write the book and then plan the party. 


In true Mary Dougherty fashion, my initial plans for the launch were ambitious and border-line extravagant -- a whole hog on a spit with all sorts of sauces and sides. But somewhere along the way, my plans started to come into line with what I could reasonably pull off -- and 100-plus pounds of pork over an open flame wasn't in the cards. What was in the cards was George on stage, two beef briskets smoked by an actual Texan named Angela, a pile of cheddar chipotle grits, a bunch of tequila, and a theater and house full of some of my favorite people. It all went off without a hitch except for George. George went rogue and as Jack said, it was a code red kind of situation.  


I had a plan -- I would read the cookbook from stage with a handsome and sedate George lying at my feet. However, George had other plans and completely lost his yellow Lab/food-addled mind. He wanted to eat the food I made for the party and in true Lab fashion, he single-mindedly pursued that goal. By the time we took the stage, he was wound up and refused to be calm, cool, and collected. So we took his leash off, gave him free range of the theater, and proceeded as if it's entirely normal to have a free range Lab at a book launch party. And truthfully, it was perfectly normal -- he is a Dougherty dog after all.


It was a truly lovely event -- I was humbled and so touched by everyone who came to help launch Life in a Northern Town into the world. While my name is on the cover, the book actually has multiple co-authors and many of them were in the crowd that afternoon. The Bayfield area community welcomed us all those years ago and shared their experiences, their stories, and their homes with us. The Bayfield we know and love is a direct result of the generosity of the people who call our northern town on Lake Superior home. 


The night ended with a couple of briskets smoked to perfection, a pile of white buns, pots of Texas baked beans and chipotle grits, and enough tequila to get everything moving in the right direction. And it was perfect -- our kitchen was full of everything I truly love -- good food, good booze and the best people. 


Do you want a signed and/or personalized copy of Life in a Northern Town? They are available on my website here and I'd be happy to sign one and drop it in the mail for you! 


ps -- Wil Dougherty, long-time photo safari companion and talented photographer, took all these photos! 

Michigan Island Lighthouse

Lighthouses and islands, two defining features of the Bayfield region, and one of the many things we love about living on Lake Superior. When we first started visiting the Apostle Islands nearly 20 years ago, we made sure to stop by and tour all the lighthouses and for many years, we've visited at least one or two a year. This year, we spent a weekend camping in the Islands and on our way home, we stopped by the Michigan Island light. 


Michigan Island has two lighthouses and given my serious distaste for heights, I stuck to the older, shorter lighthouse while the kids went way, way up into the 118-foot still-operational tower. 

A few years ago, we did a short video for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism highlighting the Apostle Islands. We shot our segment from Raspberry Island and I remember telling the kids that they had to be on their best behavior...which they translated into playing a Dougherty version of contact frisbee (which you can see on the video). Three years later, it's so fun to watch it -- the kids have grown up so much (and my hair is significantly more grey)! 

The gardens have been restored and were in full bloom when we visited. 

I don't know how many steps there are to the top of lighthouse but it gave me vertigo to look up -- I can't believe the kids climbed them without a second thought. 

Going down is always easier but when you're a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with very short legs like Gus, any staircase requires careful consideration. We made our way down the stairs, onto the dock, into the boat, and back to Bayfield....where summer was coming to a close,  the kids were leaving for UW-Madison, and our fall schedule was just getting into full swing. There are all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming months but there's something so sweet about our few days in the Islands -- can't wait until next year! 


Salt-Cured Hot Peppers

I like all sorts of salt-cured things: salmon, lemons, capers, olives, and oranges. There is something about salt that pulls out the essence of whatever it's mixed with -- kind like a good editor when you're a first-time cookbook author and you tend towards wordy manifestos! Anyway, I decided to see what salt would bring forth from a pile of hot peppers and I wasn't disappointed. These peppers are still relatively crunchy and add a nice salty heat to anything you think needs a little oomph. Unless you're seriously deficient in sodium, I'd give them a quick rinse before you eat them -- salt, while good at highlighting flavors, can stage a hostile takeover of your meal if you aren't careful! 

Salt Cured Pepper with Lime and Cilantro

1 pound hot peppers with seeds, washed and sliced
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, rough chopped
1 lime, zested

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Place in a 1-quart canning jar and cover. Give it a couple good shakes to make sure everything is evenly distributed and then set in a cool and dark place in your kitchen for a week, shaking every day. The salt will pull a lot of the moisture out of the peppers and you'll a salty, peppery 'brine' -- this is a good thing. At the end of the week, place in the refrigerator and use within 6 months. 

Chocolate Cake?? Yes Please!

So, I bet you're wondering why I have a picture of Aldo followed by a picture of grated butter leading off a blog post about chocolate cake. Well, grated butter is an emergency measure when your dog (Aldo) decides to eat the butter you had on the counter for the cake you wanted to make.

I didn't think it was possible to have two dogs who bring food sourcing to the level of an Ocean's 11/12/13 movie but we've managed to do just that. George and Aldo are remarkably resourceful when it comes to counter-surfing and if I'm not on my game (or they aren't sequestered), everything is up for grabs. And grating butter is a good tool to have in your back pocket when you have a hard stick of butter and a serious hankering for chocolate cake! 

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coffee, brewed
3 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup raspberry preserves, for the bottom layer of the cake
3 cups fresh raspberries, for the top of the cake

6 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 butter (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. 

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix the coffee and buttermilk together in a bowl and set aside. 

With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Then add all  the coffee/buttermilk mixture and mix thoroughly . Then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Make the frosting: place sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and bet on medium speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and beat until light and fluffy. Spread the raspberry preserves evenly on the bottom layer of the cake and then place the remaining layer on top. Frost the entire cake and place the raspberries in a circle on the top of the cake. 

Poulet Au Pain

This won't come as a surprise to those who know me but I often wake up thinking about dinner. Food is never far from my mind (George and I have a lot in common) and in this case, I woke up thinking about chicken wrapped in puff pastry. I saw a recipe somewhere but when I set out to make this for dinner, I couldn't find it anywhere so I turned to Google....and that's how I discovered poulet au pain, or it's decidedly unromantic English name, chicken bread. I had no idea it was a French recipe; I just remember thinking that chicken wrapped in puff pastry had a lot of potential and I wanted to eat it for dinner.  

I've made quite a few poulet au pains this winter and like the cheddar and apple galette, it never got old. I thought my roasted chicken days were over because the weather is warming up, the crocuses are blooming and I've put all the snow gear away for the summer but Mother Nature threw us a curve ball and there was talk of possible snow showers tonight (which didn't materialize) and that means I had another crack at roasted chicken before spring really takes root.

Looking back at the winter of 2016, we ate a lot of puff pastry and I'm not sure exactly what got into me. I was wrapping, layering, galetting and tartleting all sorts of stuff and it was a buttery, flaky season....and this chicken is my swan song to cold and snow.


Poulet Au Pain

1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup of butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
1 tablespoon preserved lemon, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, shopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Egg wash (1 egg and 3 tablespoons water, beaten)
Herb salt (recipe here)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the butter, herbs, preserved lemon, garlic, and salt and combine thoroughly. Loosen the chicken skin and place the herb butter under both breasts, thighs, and legs. Spread any remaining butter over the chicken breast and set aside.

On a floured board, Roll out the puff pastry to about a 14 -16 inch square-isa shape and place the chicken, breast side down, on the puff pastry. Wrap the dough around the chicken and seal all the seams with the egg wash. Place the chicken on a roasting rack or a parchment-lined sheet tray, brush the entire chicken with the egg wash and sprinkle with herb salt. Place in oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. The chicken is done when the puff pastry is golden brown and the chicken thighs register 175 degrees. Let sit for about 10 minutes before carving. 

Cheddar and Apple Galette

I've made this galette a number times over the past few months and it hasn't gotten old -- which is a pretty good indicator of a solid recipe. Although to be fair, it's find of hard to get sick of anything with cheese, puff pastry and caramelized onions. I made one to bring to Julie and Charly's sugarbush yesterday and I decided to make one little change that took this solid recipe and transformed it into a stellar recipe -- I drizzled my spicy pepper and ginger jam on top of the apples before I baked it. I love it when recipe improv works out. 

While this is definitely more of a fall and winter type of dish, it's light enough that it would make a nice lunch with a salad in the spring. Plus, it's supposed to snow tomorrow and this galette will help take the sting out of snowflakes in April...maybe. 

Cheddar and Apple Galette

1 onion, sliced and caramelized
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
3 apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup hot pepper and ginger jam (recipe here)
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons thyme
1 sheet of puff pastry, rolled into a 16 x20 rectangle
Maldon sea salt for sprinkling
Egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water) for puff pastry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet tray with parchment and place the puff pastry on the sheet tray. Place the sliced apples in a large bowl, sprinkle with the 1/4 cup of flour, toss to distribute the flour evenly over the apples and set aside. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the puff pastry and then evenly distribute the caramelized onions over the cheddar cheese.

Place the sliced apples, slightly overlapping, in three or four rows on the puff pastry, leaving about an inch of pastry exposed. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and drizzle the hot pepper and ginger jam over the galette. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle the Maldon sea salt on the crust. Place in oven and bake, rotating once, for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy around the edges. Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve. 

Spicy Pepper & Ginger Jam

I just finished my last jar of this sweet and spicy jam yesterday and I'm really wishing I had persevered in my late summer canning marathon and made a few more pints of this stuff. I remember the day I took these photos -- it was about 100 degrees in my kitchen and the air was thick with pepper fumes....even the dogs beat hasty retreat when I started chopping these bad boys up.

I can't recall the names of all the peppers I used; it was a mixture of super-nuclear Bulgarian Carrots (those little orange ones), mature Hungarian Wax, plain-old Jalapeños and a sweet pepper or two. This recipe is super easy and adaptable -- you should use a combination of peppers that suits your taste-buds and tolerance for heat. This summer I'm going to strap on my ski-googles, put my gloves on, let the dogs outside, turn the fan on, and persist....I need a double batch of this jam next time around! 

Spicy Pepper and Ginger Jam

1 pound of hot peppers, seeded and finely chopped (add a handful of seeds if you like it hot) 
1/2 pound sweet peppers (like bell peppers or sweet Italian), seeded and finelychopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 cups white sugar
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
2 packages (1.75 ounce) Sure-Jell

Prepare jars and lids: place 4 half-pint jars on rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover jars, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow jars to rest in the hot water. Meanwhile, put bands and lids in small saucepan and cover with water. Heat over medium heat until the water is simmering, then remove pan from heat and allow bands and lids to rest in hot water until ready to use.

Add all ingredients, except the Sure-Jell, to a large stockpot, bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer for 20 minutes. Bring back to a rolling boil, add the Sure-Jell, and boil for one minute. Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for five minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for six hours or overnight.