Cabot Creamery Cookbook and Cheese Giveaway!

Cabot Creamery CookbookWho loves Cabot cheese?  I do!  I grew up not far from Cabot, Vermont and still enjoy driving over to visit the creamery.  Want to win a copy of their new cookbook and some scrumptious Cabot cheeses?  Of course you do!

If you have never visited Cabot, Vermont,  be sure to read this post about my visit in the summertime! Cabot cheddar cheese has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember.  We carry 3 lb. bricks of Seriously Sharp Cheddar in our suitcases when we return to California from Vermont!   Of course, that isn’t really necessary now that Cabot cheeses are available in grocery stores all over the USA.

The Cabot Creamery Cookbook

Cabot Creamery recently released this gorgeous new cookbook! Continue reading

Mimi Avocado Visits Cabot Creamery in Cabot, Vermont

Cabot Creamery Entrance

Last Saturday I drove out to Cabot, Vermont to see the Cabot Creamery.  It has been many years since I’ve been there…33 to be exact.  The last time I went to Cabot was in 1981 when my then-boyfriend had come to Vermont to meet my family.   We bought an old fashioned wheel of special Cabot cheddar cheese to take back to California, and shared it on the day we announced our engagement to his family.

Here we are in 1981, cutting our wheel of Cabot cheddar cheese at the avocado ranch in California. We carried that cheese in our suitcase,  all the way to California from Cabot, Vermont!

wheel of Cabot cheddar

If you are ever in central Vermont,  plan to take the beautiful drive through the greenest fields and forests that you’ll ever see.  Enjoy the old farmsteads with manicured lawns,  magnificent flower gardens, picturesque villages, forests, streams…and the bluish purple mountains that layer themselves in the changing light from early morning to late evening.  Drive up into the hillside village of Cabot, Vermont to find the historic creamery Continue reading

Mimi Avocado’s Cheddar Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese Adventure

Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese with Cauliflower

I have been obsessed with Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese for the last two weeks.   It started with an appetizer at The Elephant Bar restaurant.  We were on our way to sing Handel’s Messiah at the annual La Jolla Symphony Chorus’  Sing-a-along Messiah,  and stopped for a bite to eat.  I never let myself order Mac ‘n Cheese, because it’s just not a good choice for those of us who want to watch the calories…all that pasta and cheese.   But on this particular day we agreed to share one order of the creamy deliciousness,  and it was …  unforgettable.  So I looked up the recipe online…just to see what The Elephant Bar does to make it THAT GOOD.   Surprisingly,  I discovered that they use cauliflower!

This led to a new hobby…reading recipes for cauliflower mac ‘n cheese.   As you might have predicted,  this led to a new adventure:  making Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese myself!   I knew I wanted to use our family’s  traditional favorite, Cabot cheddar cheese from Vermont,  which is (thankfully) available at Costco here in California.

Cabot-Cheddar-Cheese

Anything that says “Classic Vermont” has a place in my heart…and our refrigerator!

So I did something I almost never do:   bought elbow macaroni and all the fixings for mac ‘n cheese.  Plus a huge head of cauliflower.   The Farmer used to grow cauliflower in Orange County,  before he moved to San Diego to grow avocados.   We have an appreciation for a good head of cauliflower in this house!

The recipe I decided to use came from Rachel Ray’s website… click through on this link to find her original recipe.   I followed it pretty closely,  but used twice the amount of  grated Cheddar cheese  (I had no Gruyere cheese on hand),   and instead of whole milk,  I used half-and-half because we normally use 2% milk…and the recipe called for whole milk.  I just happened to have some half and half on hand for Christmas. I  used dried sage and ground nutmeg instead of the fresh ones listed in Rachel Ray’s recipe.     For the Dijon mustard,  I chose this one from Roland Foods.  The little mustard seeds  were pretty and tasty too!

 

Roland Dijon Mustard

This Roland Dijon mustard was perfect in the mac ‘n cheese! Wonderful flavor and texture!

The best thing about this dish was the fact that I could make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator.   Don’t you just love having the mess already cleaned up and the casserole ready to pop in the oven?  This recipe made enough for two casseroles…one to serve now, and another for later in the week!

cauliflower mac and cheese

Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with Cauliflower…all ready!

I topped our  Mac ‘n Cheese with grated parmesan cheese.  The Elephant Bar recipe uses muenster cheese on top instead.

The whole family enjoyed our Christmas lunch…simple and delicious…and casual.   And the best part is the leftovers!

Christmas lunch

Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with cauliflower, served with roasted green beans and ham.

Christmas decoration

It’s a cozy time of year…colder than usual… and we’re always hoping for more rain!   That Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with Cauliflower was the perfect dish to serve for our family Christmas gathering.  Healthy cauliflower made all the difference!   I might have added some slices of fresh avocado on top if there had been some ripe ones in the kitchen.   Next time!

 

At Home in Vermont: Family, Food and Familiar Places (Part 1)

Vermont road

I grew up on this  road in Vermont.

I’ll bet you can tell that I’m not in California today.  Instead I’m in my home state, Vermont.   This is the road that runs past the house where I grew up, where my mother still lives.  It  feels like home to me.   See that mountain off in the distance? That’s Camel’s Hump, a landmark that most Vermonters will recognize.  It is much smaller in this photo than it appears in real life. During my growing-up  years we had an unobstructed view of Camel’s Hump and the horizon where the sun sets every evening.  We used call the family into the living room to  gather in front of the picture window: “Come see the sunset!”    Since the trees have grown on the ridge we have to walk to the top of the hill to see the sunset in the summertime when there are leaves on those trees, and the walk is worth it!

Vermonters who live within sight of Camel’s Hump have a special bond with the mountain.   We are east of the Camel’s Hump, so we see it with the hump on the left.  People who live over in the Champlain Valley are west of it, so they think the hump belongs on the right.  Artists paint or photograph that mountain both ways,  but if you live in Central Vermont,  you probably wouldn’t want a picture of it from the other direction.  Everyone knows that someone tried to name the mountain “Crouching Lion”,  but we’re glad they didn’t.

Camel's Hump in Vermont

This is our side of Camel’s Hump…with the hump on the left.

Conversation in Central Vermont usually begins and ends with the weather.  Summertime can be hot and humid, but my first several days here have been absolutely perfect.

Green Mountains of Vermont

The Green Mountains of Vermont are usually blue!

Yesterday I drove down to the capital city,  Montpelier, for the well known Capital City  Farmer’s Market.  It was a perfect day, and lots of people were out on the sidewalks,  visiting with friends they might happen to meet,  everyone  reveling in the perfect day.

Montpelier Farmers' Market

Beautiful vegetables, plants, meats, baked goods, tee shirts, ethnic foods, artisan soaps, handmade art tiles, jewelry, granola, cheese, etc.

I was surprised to discover that artisan liquors were also represented at the Capital City Farmers’ Market!  With free samples!  If my dad was still alive, he would heartily approve!  I tasted both the Elder Flower Rum and the Maple Rum at Dunc’s Mill.  Of course, I had to bring home some of that maple rum!  Thinking about maple rum cake, maple rum glazed chicken and maybe a chocolate maple rum sauce!

 

Dunc's Mill artisan rum

 

I couldn’t resist buying some old fashioned peas, as they remind me of my father’s garden and my grandmother’s  summer visits with our family.   We would sit in a circle around a bag for the pea pods,  and shell the peas into a metal pan.  You could hear the peas hit the bottom of the pan with a beautiful percussive tone.  Sometimes a few peas would hit the floor, and my grandmother would have us all in delicious hysterics as she declared, “Oops, someone just pea-ed on the floor!”

peas

When I come to visit my mother,  I have to plan a few surprises.   She really loves to have her family visit and anticipates some culinary creativity.   Certain family members are known for their specialties, like chocolate chip cookies or apple pie.    Mom especially likes my scallops.  I dust them with Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs and sautee them in butter.  This time I wilted some spinach in the pan after the scallops were done.

scallops and spinach

We added a few shrimp too!

One of my surprises for Mom this year is a   breakfast  parfait made with Uncle Sam Original Cereal,  berries and Cabot Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt.   It’s a nice treat first thing in the morning!

yogurt Breakfast parfait

Our special breakfast parfait ingredients!

The Cabot Coop, well known for their Vermont cheddar cheese, is only a short drive from our home.  Their Greek yogurt isn’t available in California, so I look forward enjoying more of their products when I’m here.   The Cabot creamery holds special memories for me, as it is one of the first places I took my husband on his first visit to Vermont.   I’m hoping to get over there for a tour of the creamery and taste some samples of their newer offerings.    I have  recently discovered  Uncle Sam cereal and love it!  It’s toasty wheatberry and flax seed  flavor is delicious and adds the perfect crunch to the parfait.  I have to thank Attune Foods,  a sponsor of Camp Blogaway, for sending me samples to try.  It’s my new favorite cereal, and Mom loves it now too!

I always bring along some  avocados from our farm in California.  I bought  fresh cilantro, zucchini, scallions and home grown tomato at the Farmer’s Market, so we had a quinoa salad with chunks of our home grown avocado on top.   It’s great to be home in Vermont,  sharing California avocados.

quinoa salad with avocados

A few years ago my brother planted some beautiful gardens for my mother to enjoy in the yard around the house.   This year the clematis and honeysuckle are especially lovely…in the shade next to the hostas.   Everything here is green and growing!  Even though the summer sunshine is cherished by Vermonters,  this Vermont native (who lives on a California avocado ranch)  is looking forward to a good old fashioned Vermont thunderstorm!  Stay tuned!

Clematis, honeysuckle and hostas

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