Feta Chive Scones

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with mornings.  I absolutely love to BE up early.  I love watching the sunrise, I love how energetic I feel when I get an early start on the day, I love that first sip of coffee that warms me to my toes.  What I hate is to GET up early.  With all the rewards of an early start, it’s surprising how long I can linger under those blankets.

Sunrise over the neighbor's barn

When my husband started work at 4am, he always beat me out of bed.  Now that he gets to sleep in until 6am, I’m often the first one up.  While I like to linger and enjoy my morning, he likes to roll out of bed, throw his pants on, and be out the door in a flash. If I time it right, a batch of scones fresh out of the oven stops him in his tracks.  I tempt him to linger with me over hot coffee, warm scones, and a breathtaking sunrise.  These moments are rare and precious and worth refraining from hitting the snooze button.

Feta Chive Scones with a cup of coffee

 

Feta Chive Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces plain Feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream (approximately)
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 425 F.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Work the butter into the mixture until it is crumbly, but some of the butter is in larger pieces.

Ingredients for Feta Scones

Mix in the feta and chives, toss to coat.

Adding Feta and Chives

Add 3/4 cup of the cream, stirring to combine.  Add more cream if necessary to make a loose dough.

Adding cream to Feta Chive Scones

Transfer to a work surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together.  Shape into a disk and cut into 8 wedges.  Transfer the wedges to the baking sheet.

Forming the Feta Chive Scones

Brush the scones with a bit of heavy cream.

Brushing cream on the Feta Chive Scones

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on the pan for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Bake the scones to a golden brown

Here’s a printable version for your convenience.

Easy Spanakopita Pockets

Easy Spanakopita Pockets

Once again, my friend Linda from Sound Harvest Delivery shared a winning recipe with me.  I am always delighted to learn a new recipe!

Spanakopita has never been a favorite recipe for me because of the fussy Phyllo dough.  I love the flavor, but making them can be tedious, especially if the dough is a bit dry.  This recipe makes it extra easy by using crescent roll dough but keeps the wonderful flavors of the traditional Greek appetizer.

Spanakopita Pockets

  • 10 oz. fresh spinach or 2 10 oz. packages frozen spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. Appel Farms Feta of your choice
  • 4 oz. Mozzarella
  • 4 tablespoons Appel Farms Parmesan, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dill (or 1 tablespoon fresh dill)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 cans crescent rolls

Steam and drain spinach. Chop coarsely. Sauté garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Combine garlic, spinach, Feta, Mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, dill, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Making Spanakopita

Lay foil onto cookie sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Roll crescent roll flat onto cookie sheet. Separate each roll into four rectangles. Divide the filling evenly between each of the rectangles.  Place the filling on half of the rectangle. Fold together to make a pocket and pinch the edges together.

Making Spanakopita

Lightly brush with milk and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan.  Bake 18-20 minutes until golden.

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Radish and Feta Rollups

Sustainable Connections in Bellingham has a great feature going called the Harvest of the Month.  May’s harvest is (drum roll please) RADISHES!

I love local produce, you really can’t beat it.  I was talking with Alex at Sustainable Connections about tying in their featured harvest with a recipe post here and he suggested I contact Roslyn at Rabbit Fields Farm.  I’m so glad he did!  I gave her a call and we set up a time to meet and take pictures of radishes, she didn’t even act like this was a weird request.

Roslyn and her radishes
This is the look that I got when I asked Roslyn to look lovingly at her radishes. I think that was a new one for her.

Roslyn had lots of work to do on her ten acre farm but patiently waited while I took photos of dirty radishes from every possible angle.  She is a terrific lady!   You can check out her website for the list of farmer’s markets where she has her produce.  Tell her I sent you, and tell her that I’m really sorry that I ran off without paying for the radishes.  I drove away with a cooler full of radishes and the money still in my pocket.  Oops.

Radishes fresh from the farm

Roslyn introduced me to some radishes that I’ve never tried before.  Breakfast Radishes have a mild flavor and really nice crunch.  I tried them in some different recipes and really like them.  Radishes pair well with feta, so here is a fresh, light appetizer for springtime.

zucchini rollup assembly

 

Radish Feta Rollups

The amounts above will vary depending on the size of the vegetables.  I made about two dozen rollups with the amounts listed.

Mix the yogurt and feta in a blender or food processor to a thick paste.  Add more yogurt if needed to get the consistency of toothpaste.  Lay the zucchini slices one at a time on a cutting board or counter and spread 1 teaspoon of the feta mixture on the slice, leaving 1/2 inch on each end clear.  Roll up a basil leaf into a cigar shape and place it in the center of the zucchini slice.  Line up the carrots and radishes on either side, then roll up the zucchini slice.  The feta mixture will hold the roll together.

Radish Rollups

Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

On the farm, we tend to make due with whatever we have.  Things are often held up with bailing twine, and that includes a baggy pair of jeans.  When I started doing farm chores, one thing that we were making due with was the lack of brakes on the tractor.  In order to stop, you had to release the scraper blade that was attached to the back of the tractor.  The blade would slam down onto the ground and drag the tractor to a stop. This method worked fine for me because I was painfully slow at driving a tractor. I never got much momentum going so stopping was pretty easy. More often than not, I would stop short of where I wanted to be and had to back up and try again.

After I was too pregnant to comfortably sit on a tractor seat, John and Rich hired a young man to take over for me.  Within a week, they had the tractor in the shop, getting the brakes fixed.  I still wonder about the timing on that. Was a compliment for my excellent tractor driving skill or an acknowledgement of my lack of ability to work at a speed worth worrying about? John pretends that he doesn’t remember, then avoids eye contact. I take that as a positive sign.

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Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 4 ounces Appel Farms Feta
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine feta, bacon, and garlic.  Make a pocket in the chicken breast by holding the chicken flat with the palm of one hand, then make an incision in the thicker side of each breast.  Carefully rotate the knife to create a deep pocket, keeping the side of the chicken breast intact.   Stuff the feta mixture into the pockets, dividing evenly.  Secure opening with a toothpick if needed.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.  Place the chicken breasts in a 9×13 baking dish.  Brush olive oil mixture over chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

Feta and Spinach Frittata

Feta and Spinach Frittata

We recently had a health scare at our house.  John works like a nut but he was forced to slow down while the doctors did tests to see what was going on with him.  It was a month of waiting and wondering.  He missed a lot of work and was feeling pretty miserable.  Thankfully, he is fine, but in that time he trained his employees to do some of the work that he alone did before.  The uncertainty and forced rest were hard on him, but in the end it was a real blessing.  He was able to pass on some of his daily tasks and now focus more of his time and attention on areas that will help the business to grow and improve.  He also gets to sleep in until 6am.

breakfast in bed

The start of a new year is a great time to sit back and take a hard look at our lives.  Am I spending too much time on things that really aren’t important?  Am I taking enough of a break from the busyness of life to renew my body and my spirit?  Am I using the time I am given in the pursuits that truly mean something?

John found out that the business will not fall apart if he has breakfast in bed once in a while.  In fact, the business benefits because he is rested, relaxed, and ready to go.

Frittata

Feta and Spinach Frittata

  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In an oven proof skillet, saute the onions in olive oil until translucent.  Add in the spinach and saute until wilted.  Add the sundried tomatoes, egg mixture, and half of the feta.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Sprinkle the remaining feta on top and move the skillet to the oven.  Bake until set and starting to brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Breakfast in bed

 

Orzo Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Orzo Salad

Appel begins with the letter A.  This fact is really important at church potlucks because: “If your last name begins with A-M, please bring a salad.  If your last name begins with N-Z, please bring a dessert.”  I’m kinda sad that I never get to bring a dessert, I love to make desserts.  Someday I might sneak in with a dessert to see if the hospitality committee notices.  I think the elder board would back me up, they like dessert.

In case I decide that I’m being too passive aggressive for a church potluck, I have a new salad recipe ready.  It makes a nice big bowl full and it’s yummy for any potluck!  If you are lucky enough to have a name that starts with N-Z then this salad would be great for a light dinner.  It’s perfect paired with crunchy artisan bread and iced tea.

Shrimp Orzo Salad

Shrimp Orzo Salad

  • 1 pound orzo
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and oil.
  2. Cook orzo according to the package directions.  Drain well then toss the hot orzo in the lemon and oil.  Cool orzo, then add the pine nuts, shrimp, feta, and chives.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve chilled

Shrimp Orzo Salad

Feta Dip

Feta Dip

Our neighbor Shyla has a secret garden at her house.  It’s a wondrous thing.  The entrance is by the driveway between massive rhododendron bushes.  You wouldn’t see it if you didn’t know it was there and when she invited me to it, there was a gargantuan spider guarding the entrance.  The spider sits just above eye level for me so I almost didn’t see it.  At the last moment, I performed an awkward and embarrassing dodging movement, but I successfully made it into the secret garden.  I have no doubt that my moves would have looked hilarious to anyone watching.

spider

Shyla grows vegetables in her secret garden, more than they can eat, so she shared her bounty with me.  She and her whole family are some of the most generous people I have ever met.  Living next to a dairy farm is not always pleasant.  We are noisy, we are messy, and we are smelly, but they shrug it off and bring over pounds of rhubarb and tomatoes.

tomatoes

tomatoes

I served some of Shyla’s tomatoes with a Feta Dip and it was very popular.  I also picked up some carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, and kohlrabi from Small’s garden.  Vegetables fresh from the garden have wonderful flavor and the mellow dip compliments the flavors without overpowering them.

Feta Dip

Feta Dip

  • 1 cup Appel Farms Yogurt
  • 3 ounces Appel Farms Basil Tomato Feta (or flavor of your choice)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine and chill 1-2 hours before serving.  Can be made a day ahead.

The Marlies Method of Cheesemaking: Feta Edition.

Since I (Elizabeth) will be camping at the time this posts, I have invited my cousin Marlies to write a guest post! She is much like her mother in being a passionate foodie with a whole lotta sass, but in her father’s environment of the cheese room!

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From left to right, my cousin Marlies Appel, myself, and my little sister Katherine Appel. I had to run back to the plant to help out for a little bit, it’s not very often all three of us get to work together anymore!

The Marlies Method of Cheesemaking: Feta Edition.

Step 1: Wash those grubby hands. I know you probably licked your fingers after you ate that cookie for breakfast, you animal. Or was that just me?

Step 2: Sanitize your arms up past your elbows, even though you are only really going to use your hands. It never hurts to be prepared for a cheese emergency. You never know when you are gonna have to go all in.

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Step 3: ALL THE MILK. LOTS AND LOTS OF MILK WOW. And take a moment to appreciate all the work it takes to get that beautiful delicious milk. Cheesemaking doesn’t start with the cheesemakers. Cheesemaking starts with all the farmers, nutritionists and milkers that work so hard to have happy, healthy dairy cows. You’ve got a few minutes to think about it because it takes a while to fill up that vat- WOW SO MUCH MILK.

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Step 4: Resist temptation to jump into vat of milk. That part is hard.

Step 5: Add the stuffs that turns it into goopy goop. Let it do its thing. Don’t hover. Give it some space.

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Step 6: Have some coffee, and admire your goop. That is some nice goop. #coagulationadmiration

Step 7: Turn on the scary rotating knives, and then KEEP FAR AWAY. THESE BLADES STOP FOR NOTHING AND NO ONE. Particularly when checking temperatures with your handy dandy cheese thermometer, you must be vigilant. The last thing you want is to get your hand slammed and jammed in between the knife and the side of the vat.

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Step 8: Drain off some of the whey. Whey away. You don’t want so much whey in your squish squish.

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Step 9: Scoop the goop into the forms. These dope little forms have holes and are fitted with some nifty little cloths that allow the whey to just flow out. It’s literally magic. Feta curd is more jelloish, and it uses its own weight against itself to squish the whey out. Seems like it makes the process easier right? GUESS AGAIN. This basically means you fill the form, and then you have to top it off with extra curd approximately 3,209,183 more times while it settles and drains and drains and settles. It takes its own sweet time too, so I hope you aren’t in a rush.

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Step 10: Have some more coffee. All that draining and scooping can be tiring, so you earned it.

Step 11: Flip the cheese in the forms at some extremely inconvenient time, probably at night. Preferably sometime before Fresh Prince of Bel Air comes on though.

Step 12: (Next day.) Now that the feta is solid, you can pull those awkwardly large blocks out of their forms and put it in the illogically small brine tank. Stack stuff on top of them so they don’t float. It’s like Dead Sea salt content times infinity in there. You could put a cement truck in it and it would probably float. You want the feta submerged so it gets evenly salty salty. No one likes bland spots in their feta, you don’t want that kind of pressure on you.

Step 13: Take it out, bag it up. Seal it, and wheel it out. Let it hang out in the cooler for a while to make sure all that happy salt incorporates in to the center.

That’s all folks. See? Totally simple.11749589_10205436175437578_17631799_n

How DNA determines your driving habits

Tractor at store drive-thru

I have a confession to make: I drive like a city person.  People who live in cities tend to drive closer to the center line.  It makes sense because you need to take care when passing the cars parked along the sidewalk.  A door might fly open or someone might step out from behind a bumper.  The city can be hazardous!

People who learn to drive in the country tend to gravitate toward the shoulder.  This also makes sense because you need to leave plenty of room for hay wagons and tractors, especially if the tractor is pulling a rake or a tedder.  Farm equipment can indiscriminately drift into the oncoming lane so it’s best to give plenty of room.  The country can be hazardous!

John and Marlies in the tractor
Marlies is in the tractor booster seat so she can ride along with her dad.

My brother-in-law Gerald tried to convince me to change my errant ways, but I really believe that its part of my city bred DNA to be magnetically attracted to the center line.  I was headed to the farm the other day when Gerald met me on the road.  He was driving a tractor and I was weaving back and forth trying to avoid him but still hugging my beloved center line.  He pretended that he didn’t know me.

Part of country life that I enthusiastically embrace is shopping for produce from local farms.  Now is the season when the produce farms are in high gear and the bounty overflows.   If you can get fresh produce from a local farm, by all means do it.  One of my favorite places to go is Bob and Vivian Small’s farm just up the road from us.  They don’t have a very big variety and they are only open on Saturdays, but what they have is ripened on the plant and fresh picked.  They opened last Saturday so I made sure to stop by and picked up cucumbers for the salad listed below.

Cucumber
The cucumbers at Small’s Garden look beautiful!

Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

  • 2 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and basil in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over and toss well.  Serve immediately.

Cucumber Plant

Why it pays to listen.

Part of the fun of marrying into the family business is the variety of jobs that I have had over the years.  In the last twenty or so years I have done pretty much every job imaginable.  I have packed boxes, baled Quark, made deliveries, done the bookkeeping and payroll, plus marketing and sales.  One of my jobs back in the late 90’s, was to manage our booth at the farmer’s market in Bellingham.

The farmer’s market in Bellingham opened in 1993 and I shared the task of manning our booth.  It was tiring work but I loved the camaraderie of the farmers. I loved the hot summer air rising from the blacktop parking lot.  I loved the sounds of laughter and smells of food around me.  The best thing that I got out of those days at the farmer’s market was from simply listening.  I listened to the customers, what they wanted, what they needed, and what we could do for them.  Those conversations and many more like it helped to shape our business and how we serve our customers today.

Jerry
Jerry is one of our wonderful customers who help to shape our business.

Feta was pretty exotic to most of the people I met at the Farmer’s Market back then.  That seems so surprising with how mainstream it is now.  Some shoppers had heard of it but most had never tried it.  At that time, “cheese” meant orange cheddar, even white cheddar was a tough sell.  Shoppers were hesitant to try new cheeses, and they weren’t sure how to react to feta’s rich, briny flavor and crumbly texture. Introducing people to a new cheese back then was pretty challenging but so much fun!

Feta
Feta

The latest trend in feta around here is matching it with fruit.  Feta and watermelon is fabulous!  Here is a favorite summer salad that pairs feta with strawberries.  Strawberry season here is coming to an end, but lots of places have ever-bearing varieties.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad

  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 16 ounces strawberries, washed, hulled and slices
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped and toasted (I used walnuts here. Pecans also work well, but my favorite is slivered almonds)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

I would feel really silly telling you how to make a salad, so I will leave that part to your imagination.

Making salad at The Cheese Shop
This is what happens when put my daughter in charge of the photos.