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Posts Tagged ‘City Girl Country’

Food for the Eyes

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Guava paste with edible flowers. Serve with chips or saltine crackers.

Contributed by CityGirlCountry

Hibiscus flowers give Red Zinger tea its gorgeous red color and a pop of lemony-cranberry flavor. It can also be placed at the bottom of a champagne flute for an extra touch. A common flavor in the Caribbean, Hibiscus is found at Tops in Buffalo, NY’s Westside.

Chamomile tea is lightly apple in flavor and known for its calming abilities. Daylilies, a common ingredient in Chinese cookery, are especially evident in hot and sour soup. Most eaters don’t realize they have enjoyed the wonderful flavors and colors of edible flowers, according to an Edible Flower class at Urban Roots in Buffalo, NY.

It isn’t recommended that you eat flowers if suffering from allergies or hay fever, but City Girl Country survived this class by taking a Claritin prior to attending.

Flowers are a beautiful addition to ice cubes, drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts. They dress up any meal, making it “happy food” as Leo Buscaglia, psychologist said. Just looking at flowers can make us smile.

Rule for eating flowers

  • If you don’t know if the flowers are edible, do not eat them
  • Don’t eat flowers from the roadside. They contain automobile emissions
  • Only eat petals
  • Just like spices, flavor is more potent in flower petals when they are dried

To be safe, edible flowers can be purchased pre-packaged (Wegman’s in Amherst sells five blossoms for $2). However, for more variety and a larger quantity, grow your own! Some planting suggestions, let parsley and chives live together, and violets and cabbage can be neighbors.

English lavender is not just for sachets in dressers. A common flower to use in drinks and food is lavender. Soak petals in boiling water, and stir in lemonade mix for a flavorful and bountiful, refreshing glass of pink lemonade. Garnish with a slice of lemon. For recipes, refer to

Apple blossoms are edible.

Lavender can also be used in chilled vodka for added flavor.

Edible flower petals can also be frozen into an ice bowl (a nesting bowl is needed) to chill salads, fruit or dessert.

Paint egg whites on cookies or cheese to hold flowers, or dip lilacs in egg white and fine sugar, and place on top of a cupcake. Include Pansies in spring rolls to create “trapped” flowers and a beautiful wrap.

Edible flowers from the backyard or a container garden can be cleaned with a paintbrush to dust off bugs or dirt. To get rid of any possible pesticides, soak in salt water (it is recommended not to eat flowers from commercial nurseries).

Other edible flowers:

  • Chive flower
  • Violet
  • Johnny Jump Up
  • Jasmine
  • Hyssop

For additional reading:

Edible Flowers: 25 recipes and an A-Z pictorial directory of culinary flora (Anness) by Kathy Brown

Being Square is Cool

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Contributed by CityGirlCountry

Spring is the busiest time of year for the garden. Don’t let a spring snowstorm delay plans and chores, and using the Square Foot Gardening method is an easy way to transition from a empty patch to bountiful vegetables and herbs.

The Square Foot Gardening method emphasizes use of compost and hand watering. Growing a different variety of plant in every square foot would ensure that there is no diminishing supply of a particular nutrient in the soil, according to Urban Roots, a community gardening center in Buffalo, NY. The common practice in Square Foot Garden is to first make a raised bed of soil, in a 4-ft. by 4-ft. area, and then divide the raised bed into several 1-ft. by 1-ft. areas using twine or some sticks.

“The biggest advantage of square-foot gardening is that you reach all portions of the raised bed and can work each square-foot area without stepping on the oil or affecting the other plants,” said Caesandra Seawell, who recently taught a Square Foot Gardening workshop at Urban Roots.

Placing several raised beds throughout a garden, separated by some aisle space to walk through, creates a “garden island,” making this method of gardening even more accessible.

Any backyard space will due when working with raised beds. Use newspaper, coffee bags, or anything biodegradable on the bottom. Planting can even be done on a concrete slab. If getting around is difficult, plant the raised bed on wheels. This also allows the gardener to chase the sun.

To calculate how many plants per square, refer to the plant spacing on the back of the seed packet.

12 inches apart, plant 1 per sq.

6 inches apart, plant 4 per sq.

4 inches apart, plant 9 per sq.

3 inches (or less) apart, plant 16 per sq.


Water in the morning to get evaporation and warmth

Water close to the ground and pull weeds while you’re down there (suggestion, use a snake hose)

Succession planting (leaving one square blank) works well for lettuce and carrots

Corn likes to grow up next to friends, be sure they have stalks to lean on

Plant one square of Marigolds to keep out rabbits, and make iced tea with the leaves

Options for marking dividers: string, twine, slats of wood, pebbles, pennies

Prepare a planting template using a power drill and drill-hole set; these make proper spacing within the grid

Make templates from foam sheets, brown paper bags or sturdy cardboard


Basic bed mixture:

1 part Peat Moss

1 part compost (commercial bags or shredded wood manures – cow, horse rabbit)

1 part Vermiculite (or Perlite)


Recipes Start in the Garden

Salsa Garden



Onions (Spanish or Yellow)


For a little heat, plants some peppers

60-day Root Soup for Kids

Look for fast maturing, early varieties.

Leeks (best planted from transplants)

Onions (best planted from transplants)




Boil all the roots until tender and add chopped herbs for extra flavor.


For additional information, refer to The Square Foot Gardening Method by Mel Bartholomew.

Hola Mexico!

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2011 at 11:23 pm

From CityGirlCountry

Laura Anhalt’s New Cookbook is Drawing Travelers to Homeland

Laura Anhalt moved to Buffalo, NY from Mexico City 11 years ago. En route to Canada with her husband and children, she discovered the City of Good Neighbors and decided to stay, raise her family and develop her English writing skills.

Last year she published her first cookbook Mexican Flavors: A Journey Inspired by the Folklore and Traditions of Mexican Cuisines. Over 300 pages are chock-full of ancient recipes, beautiful full-color photographs, and stories that make it more than just a collection of dishes to serve at the dinner table; it really is a love story to family, tradition and culture.

“I found it was hard to write about the past, especially family traditions but when I started to write, I realized these stories needed to be told to my four children,” Anhalt said. “Food is apart of those tales.”

Starting with four different, canvas-bound journals, one for each of her children, Anhalt began Mexican Flavors with handwritten notes. From a free-spirited daughter, to a son that is proud of his heritage, and a youngest child that is a traveler like her, Anhalt picked recipes she knew they would have a strong connection to.

“One of my daughters is like a flower, gentle. I have a son that has a strong connection to the motherland, he tends to find Mexico in everyone; and he likes chiles, tacos and salsa, so of course they can be found in the book,” Anhalt said. “My youngest likes and finds excitement in new culture and food.”

Black Mole Poblano with Chicken or Turkey is a dish for All Saints Day; Rice with Vanilla, Fried Mashed Bananas, Raisins, and Rum for a side dish; Red Salsa made in a Molcajete; Avocado Stuffed with Pork Rind Salad, and also find a recipe for a Mexican Wedding Cake under Sweet Delicacies and Desserts.

Foodies, cooks and those that love Mexican food and culture aren’t the only ones picking up Mexican Flavors. After a family friend, who is the former Secretary of Tourism in Mexico, got a hold of the hardcover book, she showed it to former colleagues. From one hand to another, a copy of the book will soon be found in every Mexican embassy in the world.

“Some of these recipes are 2,000 years old; you flip the tortillas the very same way today,” Anhalt said. “Combined with modern day customs, Mexican Flavors is about faith and humanity, and now it has the potential to touch lives.

“It’s not bound by just food or tradition, but family stories that travel . . . I am so happy.”

Mexican Flavors: A Journey Inspired by the Folklore and Traditions of Mexican Cuisines is available wherever fine books are sold.

Author Laura Anhalt is also co-owner of A Taste of the World, a gourmet sauce manufacturing business dedicated to bringing the flavors from around the world to the tables of Western New York. She is also a contributor to edible Buffalo magazine and resides in Buffalo, New York.

Festa dei Sette Pesci–Translated

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

From City Girl Country

On Christmas Eve a fish head reared its ugly head, until I became of age to make a dish to pass at the family party. Historically, in a traditional Italian family, young women do not receive heirlooms until they marry and recipes are handed to them gradually.

Being an independent signorina, I’ve never felt comfortable with the former and because of my profession and constant entertaining; family recipes have gradually been turned over to me throughout the years.

Besides the traditional sauce recipe that did not need to be touched, the Feast of the Seven Fishes required some tweaking. Below is the Americanized, third generation version of my family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner (or at least one piece of it).

 Fish Stew

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 tsp salt

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

¾ teaspoon dried Indian crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup tomato paste

1 (28-z) can diced tomatoes in juice

1-½ cups dry white wine

32 oz fish stock

1 bay leaf

1 lb Little Neck clams, scrubbed

1 lb mussels, scrubbed, debearded

1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1-½ lbs assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets of halibut and salmon, cut into 2 -inch chunks

Old Bay seasoning

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ¾ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

It may smell a little too alcoholic but the wine will burn off.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. De veining shrimp can be a bit of a process. With one foot on the garbage bin and the other maneuvering a paring knife (debatable, but works for me) over the sink as you remove the veins. Season the shrimp with the Old Bay and remove the skin from the fish. Add the seafood. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any of the shell fish that did no open). Season the soup, to taste, with salt.

At a recent meeting of the Cooka Nostra of Western New York (a well known cookbook club) member Julia Lavarnway brought her Southern Baked Corn, a dish that’s a favorite at her family’s table (and now her Buffalo, NY friends).

Southern Baked Corn

8.5 oz Jiffy corn muffin mix

17 oz can of cream corn

17 oz can of whole corn (undrained)

2 eggs beaten

8 oz sour cream (fat free)

1 cup of melted butter

Mix everything in a 9×13 (a 10×10 also works) lightly greased pan. Bake on 350 for 1 hr 15 min. or until golden brown on top.


Dishing Up Buffalo

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

Every summer, hundreds of culinary samples are served on the streets of downtown Buffalo, NY by the area’s best restaurants.

Taste of Buffalo, sponsored by TOPS, is the largest two-day food festival in the United States, according to the Taste of Buffalo website. This year, close to half-a-million patrons roamed Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square, in the July heat, to get a taste of WNY’s premier outdoor festival.

Common vendors made their presence known, but there were also a few new faces. Sakura Sushi (3719 Union Road, Cheektowaga 14225) was serving both traditional and contemporary dishes, including the freshest dumplings in town. Fresh, thin skin on the outside led way to a chicken center. Dipping sauce was not even necessary. These little balls of goodness were perfect on their own.

Healthy and delicious

The mid-July heat did not stop foodies from tasting the Beer Cheese soup at Eddie Ryan’s of Lancaster. Made with local cheddar cheese and “cheap” beer, just a sample was a hearty dish and the perfect way to settle into an afternoon of eating. Thick and creamy, there was a hint of beer but cheese lovers won’t be able to get enough of this hot dish–no matter what time of year.

Ed Beck of Williamsville, NY can’t get enough of Beer Cheese soup


The closest Dinosaur Bar-B-Que may be in Rochester, New York but a summer food festival would not be complete without BBQ. Rows of ribs, coated in Dinosaur’s well-known sauce, was the perfect backdrop to eat a mini BBQ sandwich. Pulled pork, fresh off the barbie, drenched in traditional BBQ sauce and on a bun.

Nothing says summer like the smell of BBQ

The day would not have been complete without dessert. Bravo! may be a chain but their crème brulee is a creamy homemade custard with fresh vanilla bean and caramelized sugar, and uniquely worth the calories.

A sweet touch

Local wines, on crushed ice, were served up at the Icy Sangria Wine Slush tent. A chillaxing way to end a hot and full day.

Local, chilled wines draw a crowd