Dorothy Grover-Read

After a rinse and a rub, the fiddleheads are ready to blanch.

The wild taste of spring!

Fiddlehead ferns are a ritual in the Northeast, and with a fleeting season, you have to be quick

From my youngest childhood days, I remember foraging for fiddlehead ferns with my Uncle Leonard, a great forager of wild native foods. Heading out to the woods with him and my Aunt Mary was always a treat; she searched for antique bottles around old cellar holes, while he turned his attention to wild foods.

In the spring, Uncle Leonard gathered fiddleheads along with the fragrant ramps (wild leeks) that grew in great abundance and, when we were lucky, morel mushrooms.

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Preparing your fiddleheads

To prepare the fiddleheads: First, soak your fiddleheads in cold water for 10 minutes and rub off any brown, papery scales with your fingers or a soft cloth. This substance is extremely bitter. Drain, add fresh water, and soak an additional 5 minutes. If the second water is still...

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Pucker up!

Zesty lemon tart is a family favorite

I grew up in a family of lemon lovers - the more tart, the better. After a heavy holiday meal, a little slice of a zesty lemon tart is a perfect finish. One of my mother's favorite tarts to make was her sister's lemon tart, only Mom always topped...

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Simple, sensational sides

No matter the feast, we love a variety of side dishes, and sometimes they even upstage the main event. But we want things simple as well as tasty, and having a few tricks up our sleeves at this busy time of year will definitely reduce the stress factor. Whenever possible, make those sides the day before, or bring them to an almost-done stage to reheat them quickly and easily. When I'm cooking a turkey, I use the giblets to make...

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A favorite and versatile sweetener

When I hear that the sap is running, I'm happy indeed. Warm days above freezing and cold nights below, mean the sap run is upon us, and it can't come a moment too soon. March in Vermont brings every type of weather possible, with little bursts of perfect early spring. The technique of boiling the sap from sugar maple trees was first developed by the indigenous peoples of our Northeast and Canada. It certainly is an important component in the...

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Side dishes that hold their own

We spend a lot of time and money on the holiday main dish, but the side dishes are often the most memorable. There would be a revolt in our family if we didn't have creamy mashed potatoes and gravy or everyone's favorite cauliflower and cheese sauce. But I like to switch things up a bit, too, and try something new every year. Sometimes, that experiment manages to become part of our regular offerings. I really appreciate a few dishes, like...

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Festive treats

From Thanksgiving through the holiday season, we get the sweet little clementines, tangerines, and sometimes mandarin oranges. My Christmas Clementine and Cardamom Cake makes a nice use of them - all of them, as you use every bit of the fruit except the seeds. You can also substitute another favorite sweet orange, but adjust the amount accordingly. Every year, I give away these cakes at Christmastime; it's become a ritual, along with making the candied orange peels with my granddaughter.

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One more story to tell

A friend texted me last Tuesday: “Did you hear that Ray Massucco died?” The text came in a couple of hours after his death, small-town global communication at its swiftest. “That can't be,” I said. “He just posted on Facebook! Not Ray!” But it was true - and my disbelief of that moment continues. When someone is so dynamic a force, it is hard to think that one day he simply wouldn't be here any longer. I doubt that I...

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