Almanack Contributor MB Mitcham

MB Mitcham

MB, an ADK 46-R, is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Online MPH Program at George Mason University. In her free time, she can usually be found scampering up and over mountains whilst munching on eggplant bacon, writing odd things, or doing zoomies with Sig and Bella, the shollie and entledoodle dynamic duo who own me. She can also be found at: dr.mb.mitcham@gmail.com


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Master mix: An Adirondack pantry staple

canning jarswith dehydrated food

I have lived in the Adirondack Park long enough to now take some of what I consider to be normal practices for granted. When walking my dogs in my yard at nighttime, I always love looking up at the stars, which are beautifully clear and stunning on cloudless nights. I can count on my neighbors to offer help when I need it, to say hi when we encounter each other at the post office or hiking trails, and to wave when they recognize my rather distinctive-looking vehicle. Hanging around an outdoor fire pit is a tried-and-true tradition, and one of the very best ways to spend an early fall evening. And there are few better experiences in life than eating what you have grown or harvested from the land (whether flora or fauna) with family and friends.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Fueling our bodies: MB’s Energy Bites

hiking

“I hate hiking and I’m never gonna do it again.” -me (age 15, yelled to my mom and anyone else within hearing distance on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Mt. Washington, NH)

When I was a child growing up in a regularly food-insecure home, my food preferences were whatever my mom had available for us to eat, whether I liked that food or not (spoiler alert – I usually didn’t like it). Although she did a wonderful job with the frighteningly little she had available, the poor quality of that food  – outdated boxed and canned goods, sad and squidgy produce, greenish rinds of cheese, and the bits of meat that no-one else wanted –  could not be masked by the spices and creative preparation techniques she employed.

Food, then, became a tool for survival, not something consumed for enjoyment or even with deliberative selection for health.

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Monday, September 26, 2022

MAKE IT: Bella’s Biscuits

Meet my hiking buddy, Bella (short for Belladonna). Bella is an entledoodle, or the offspring of an Entlebucher Mountain Dog and a mini-poodle. If you had not previously heard of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, you are not alone! They are in the same family as Bernese Mountain Dogs, but are the smallest of the breeds within that family. When crossed with the hypoallergenic mini-poodle, what are produced are adorable, intelligent, compact, herding/hunting, mountain-scrambling, active, non-shedding, fun-and-cuddle-loving, loyal puppies.

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Saturday, September 3, 2022

MAKE IT: Bree’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries

My daughter recently visited. She loves vegetables, so we experimented with several different recipes during her visit (more recipes inspired by her visit – vegetable-based and otherwise – to follow in the upcoming months.) One of the most popular snacks that we made during her visit were these baked sweet potato fries. Although ridiculously simple to make, I have not made them in a while, so I enjoyed making (and eating) them with her. This recipe can be paired with your favorite dipping sauce. Ours was a maple-infused barbecue sauce that we created to pair with these fries, but feel free to use whatever sauce you love best. Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 21, 2022

MAKE IT: Will’s Venison and Potato Pierogis 

My son has been on a meat-filling-cooked-in-dough kick recently, so we have been making a lot of calzones, strombolis, and all sorts of variations of piecrust-covered meat pies. I probably should not have been surprised when he asked me to help him create a meat and potatoes version of a pierogi. Although different from the traditional pierogi, which I have been told usually contains cheese, the filling of this version is very simple, incorporating meat, potatoes, onion, salt, and pepper.

The dough is worth taking a little time to make from scratch, and has the most amazing gummy texture (think bagels) after first being boiled before then being fried or (the option we chose) baked. I have made these several times over the past few weeks, and have substituted ground turkey for the venison, and dried and canned potatoes for freshly-made mashed potatoes with excellent results. Will’s current favorite variation, though, is this version. I hope you enjoy it as much as he does! 

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

MAKE IT: Zucchini Fries

 

Garden bounty is often equated with an abundance of zucchini. This thin-skinned member of the cucurbit family is delightfully versatile, lending itself to a wide variety of dish options. Some of my favorite ways to eat zucchini are cooked together with onions and tomatoes (fantastic in a foil packet over a campfire!), as pickles, fritters, or zucchini bread. However, when I came across this recipe for zucchini fries, I knew that I would have to give it a try. I am very glad that I did! These fries are delicious and slightly addictive, and a tangy and savory way to change up your zucchini game. It is important to remember to salt the zucchini slices before preparing them as fries, so that you do not end up with soggy fries. Also, you can use any type of unsweetened milk for the first batter layer. I have also substituted watered chickpea flour for the milk with excellent results. Enjoy!

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

MAKE IT: Zesty Salsa

I love fresh, locally-grown tomatoes. I really can’t get my fill of them, especially during the peak of tomato season in the North Country. One way that I can extend the magic of freshly-harvested
tomatoes is to can them. Although I do can the tomatoes, themselves, I also love to have salsa on hand year-round. This recipe for zesty salsa can be made as spicy or non-spicy as you like. For
less-spicy salsa, make sure to use a mild “hot” pepper, and remove the seeds and inner membranes (and be careful after cutting those peppers to wash your hands before touching your eyes!)

For a spicier salsa, select peppers with a higher Scoville rating. Although this salsa is delicious as-is, this recipe is designed to process the jars in a hot water bath, ensuring that the salsa will be shelf-stable. As always, when preserving food, make sure to only use quality produce, precisely follow processing directions, and do not alter the recipe. Thankfully, this recipe is user-friendly, even for canning newbies! Enjoy!

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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Make It: Gazpacho Andaluz

You might have realized by now that I dearly love tomatoes. And soup. So, combining tomatoes AND soup makes me very happy! There are few things as magical as using fresh produce in
summertime dishes, so why not consider using your garden’s (or farmers’ market) ripe bounty to make this simple and refreshing soup? I have sometimes substituted infused vinegar from Lake
George Olive Oil for the white vinegar for a slightly different, decadent twist (hello, amazing balsamic vinegar!) You can also top your soup with sliced hard-boiled eggs, slivers of prosciutto, or (my son’s favorite), bacon crumbles from Oscar’s Smokehouse. Regardless of whether you consume this soup plain or topped with goodies, I hope you will enjoy this version of gazpacho.

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

MAKE IT: Black Bean Soup

I love black beans, and am always delighted to find new ways to prepare them. Although I have had black bean soup before, I never had black bean soup quite as delicious as the soup I enjoyed at the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida (a huge recommendation to visit the Columbia if you ever find yourself in Tampa!) Despite a stomach already full from tapas, after the first spoonful of this amazing soup, I then proceeded to very quickly devour the rest. From a nutritional standpoint, this soup is low in fat, rich in fiber and protein, and a fantastic source of iron, magnesium, thiamin, folate, and riboflavin. Despite being good for you, it is also delicious and filling. Enjoy! (Serves 4)

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Saturday, June 4, 2022

MAKE IT: Southwestern Squash and Corn Soup

I love summer squash, and eat as much of it as I can during the months when it is growing abundantly. Although I usually eat it roasted, in ratatouille, or cooked with other vegetables in foil packets over a fire, I had never before combined it with potatoes and corn in a soup. However, when I saw an instant pot variation of this recipe from Brand New Vegan, I knew that I had to try it. I am so glad that I did! This soup is easy to make, inexpensive, and filling. Delicious by itself, it is incredible when topped with the red pepper maple relish. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can also carefully puree the soup in small batches in your blender. Enjoy!

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Saturday, May 7, 2022

MAKE IT: Blueberry Freezer Jam

I love blueberries, and will often pick gallons of them at local orchards every summer, eating some straight away, and freezing the rest so that I can later make yummy treats, like this recipe for blueberry freezer jam. Although this jam is not shelf-stable (i.e., should be stored in the freezer), it is incredibly easy to make and does make a delicious jam. I love adding the jam to my oatmeal, using it as a topping on sorbet or ice cream, or slathered on a slice of freshly baked bread. Enjoy!

Ingredients
 5 Cups of Fresh/Frozen Blueberries
 2 Cups of Sugar
 6 Tablespoons Ball Freezer Jam Instant Pectin
 3 – 12oz Freezer-safe canning jars

Directions
1. Wash berries, then place them in a shallow pan. Using a potato masher, crush berries.
2. Add the mashed berries to a saucepan, and add sugar. Mix well, and bring to a boil,
cooking at full boil for around a minute.
3. Remove jam from heat and stir in the pectin, mixing well.
4. After jam has cooled a bit, scoop the jam into small freezer-safe jars. Top with lids after
30 minutes, and then place in freezer.

Use within one year. Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from The Frugal Navy Wife


Saturday, April 16, 2022

MAKE IT: Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake in a Mug

cinnamon roll mug cake

If you are craving something sweet and do not want to wait, this cinnamon roll coffee cake in a mug is for you! I use an 18-ounce mug to make these and will often use whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose flour. If you do not want the cream cheese frosting, feel free to drizzle maple syrup, add berries, or even ice cream on top. Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 26, 2022

MAKE IT: Fish Chowder

Fish chowder is a wonderful way to use up the panfish in your freezer. This simple recipe is easy to make and cooks up quickly. Pair with some crusty bread and a salad for a full meal. Enjoy!
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
 1 small onion, chopped
 1 stalk celery, chopped
 3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
 3 cups low-sodium stock (fish, chicken stock, or vegetable)
 1/2 cup chopped carrots or sweet corn kernels
 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 1 tsp. Old Bay-type seasoning
 Salt and pepper to taste
 1-pound boneless, skinless panfish fillets, cut into 1-inch chunks
 1 cup milk (I used 2%)

Directions:
1. Sauté onion and celery in oil until tender. Add potatoes, fish stock, carrots or corn,
parsley, lemon juice, and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30
minutes.
2. Add fish and simmer for around 5 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork.  Add milk, and
heat gently (do not bring to boil).
3. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information: (calculated with vegetable stock and carrots): Serving size: 1/4th recipe |
Servings per recipe: 4 | Calories: 324, total fat: 22.5 g, saturated fat: 9 g, cholesterol: 0 mg,
sodium: 44 mg, carbohydrates: 53 g, fiber: 4.7 g, sugar: 6.5 g, protein: 20.2 g

*Recipe adapted from The Wild Harvest Table


Saturday, March 12, 2022

MAKE IT: Traditional Irish Scones

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here is a recipe for traditional Irish Scones called Frances’ Scones. Several years ago, I was able to go with my daughter, at the time, one of the Wild Irish Acres Dancers, on a trip to Ireland. During that magical trip, we visited the Rathbaun Farm, a working sheep farm in County Galway. After watching the farm’s border collie round up the sheep, we went inside the farm’s thatched cottage for some freshly baked scones, prepared by Frances, and topped with farm-fresh whipped cream and preserves. Every time that I make Frances’ scones, the scent of them baking brings me back to the farm in Ireland.

*If you do not have self-rising flour, you can create your own with 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt per cup of flour. For this recipe, you would add 2.5 Tablespoons of baking powder and 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt to the 5 cups of flour, and mix thoroughly before following the remaining steps.

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Saturday, March 5, 2022

MAKE IT: Trout with Thyme and Lime

thyme fishFish can offer our bodies some amazing benefits including omega-3 fatty acids and a large
amount of protein. This is a great way to fulfill your protein needs without overloading your
system with saturated fats and additives.

This recipe allows for a bright flavor while providing a
zesty taste in the mix. This dish is also lower in calories but with the high content of healthy fats,
you are sure to be left feeling very full!

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