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March, 2015 |

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Asheville celebrates Passover – Asheville Citizen

Rabbi Yisrael Bennish demonstrates his community pride daily, but it kicks into high drive come Passover time.

Rabbi Bennish presides over Asheville’s Chabad House. But Chabad houses appear in many other cities, a vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a place of comfort for Jews, wherever they should find themselves.

The houses act as Jewish community centers for educational and outreach activities. Though the Jewish cultural centers uphold tradition, they’re also not immune to the advances of technology.

For example, as Bennish pointed out, Asheville’s Chabad House is taking online reservations for a community Seder celebration on the first evening of Passover, April 3, Bennish said. “It’s wide open to the entire community and anyone can come.”

According to tradition, any traveler can find a public Seder, even far from home. They’ve only got to ask — or Google it.

The Chabad House acts as a brick-and-mortar community center but also compiles a treasure trove of cultural information online.

“You can find insight, you can find instruction,” Bennish said. “There’s a lot of resources, just right from our website.”

There’s also a Ma’ot Chittim campaign on the website.

“Ma’ot Chitim” refers to the centuries-old custom of gathering wheat to provide the poor with matzoh and other items for the observance of Passover — but the Chabad House’s site allows for carrying on the tradition with no labor save the click of a button.

“Passover especially involves a lot of expenses,” Bennish said. “Buying the necessary food items, preparing the kitchen. In Judaism, we always put an emphasis on charity, but especially come Passover times there’s always been charity drives to assist others in need.”

The Passover kitchen

The Chabad House website also acts as a guide to the laborious act of readying the kitchen for Passover.

Tradition mandates paying special attention to ensure the entire house free of chametz, or any leavened food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives. Even pet food bowls must be empty of chametz.

Though many homes have a special set of dishes, silverware, pots, pans and other utensils for Passover use only, year-round utensils can be made kosher for Passover.

All this effort commemorates the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt some 3,300 years ago.

“We know that the Jews left Egypt in a hurry,” Bennish said. “And they had dough that they took with them that baked on their backs — it did not have enough time to rise. That is why we commemorate that during the eight days of Passover.”

That story bred a strong Passover tradition of unleavened bread — which also means plenty of matzoh.

“The matzoh is unleavened bread,” explained Bennish. “It has not risen, it has no yeast, it’s made very quickly and baked at a high temperature so that it doesn’t have time to rise.”

Kicking off Passover

Matzoh can be found on the Seder table. And the version Asheville’s Chabad House has been making since last week is particularly special.

“At our Seder, we won’t have just square matzoh that you find find in the grocery store, but hand-made traditional round matzoh,” Bennish said.

That type of matzoh is called shmurah, which means it’s made from wheat guarded from the time it’s harvested. “It’s an extra level of supervision to make sure that the flour has not come into contact with any moisture or water from the time it’s cut to the time when it reaches your hand,” Bennish explained.

The Seder is a festive holiday meal that helps kick off Passover, one that helps detail and illustrate the journey of the Israelites from slavery to freedom.

It’s perhaps made especially festive by the traditional four cups of wine consumed at the table. “All four represent freedom and exodus,” Bennish said. “Wine is enjoyed by a free man — everything we do on Passover, specifically the Seder, is representing our freedom.”

“Seder in Hebrew means order,” Bennish explained. “The reason why we call it the Seder is that there’s a total of 15 steps to this event — I wouldn’t want to call it (just) a meal.”

The Haggadah, a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder, will also be read as a series of questions and answers between children and adults.

“The children ask, ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?’ and go on with a series of four questions,” he explained. “The Haggadah is meant for the adults to answer those questions with the story of Exodus.”

Bennish said most Jewish holidays are heavy on the allegorical lessons, and Passover is rife with them.

“One of the underlying lessons we can learn from Passover is to look at the two food items of bread and matzoh,” he said. “Bread is puffed up, but Matzoh focuses on humility.”

Passover is not only celebrated to commemorate the escape from Egypt, “but an exodus from our personal boundaries, our personal limitations and our personal inhibitions,” he said. “Everyone has them.”

Passover, Bennish said, is about trying to be “a little better,” free of the typical human excuses. “Passover is about leaving behind those limitations,” he said.

KUFTELLIS

Romanian Passover dish. Serves 6-8.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (see note)

Seasonings of choice

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Matzo meal for rolling

Oil for browning

32-ounce jar borscht, beets removed and reserved for another use

Oregano or parsley sprigs for garnish

Season ground beef to taste and roll into small meatballs. Dip each meatball into beaten egg, then matzo meal, then egg again, and matzo meal.

Spoon oil into skillet and heat. Brown meatballs in heated oil on all sides, then drain on paper towels.

Transfer meatballs to 3-quart saucepan and pour in borscht. Cover and simmer slowly about 1 hour.

Serve meatballs with pot juices, garnished with herb sprigs, as a delicious appetizer.

Note: You may substitute ground veal or turkey, as desired.

CHOCOLATE PASSOVER TORTE

1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

1 tablespoon plus 1 cup sugar

1 cup (1 sticks) butter

1 cup cocoa

5 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon salt

Warm Chocolate Sauce (recipe below)

To toast almonds, heat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds in single layer on baking sheet or in shallow baking pan. Bake 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Cool completely.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with foil. Place cooled almonds in bowl of food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sugar; process until finely ground.

In small saucepan, melt butter; cool slightly. Stir in cocoa; cool.

Beat egg yolks with cup of the sugar in large bowl until pale yellow. Add chocolate mixture and salt; mix well. Stir in almonds.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Add about of the beaten egg whites to chocolate mixture; stir until well blended. Gradually fold remaining egg whites into chocolate. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Unmold and carefully peel off foil. Cool completely. Serve with Warm Chocolate Sauce. Garnish as desired. Makes 12 servings.

WARM CHOCOLATE SAUCE

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon potato starch

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup butter

In small saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa and potato starch. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Cool over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Add butter; stir until melted. Cool slightly. Makes about 1 1/3 cups of sauce.

IF YOU GO

What: First Seder Night, led by Rabbi Shaya Susskind. Both chicken and vegetarian options available.

When: 7:30 p.m. April 3.

Tickets: $55, children $25. RSVP online at www.chabadasheville.org.

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Video Premiere: ‘Home’ Away From Home for Caravan of Thieves

The life of a touring musician isn’t often as glamorous as it might seem, so seeing it through the lens of a zany quartet known as Caravan of Thieves is a real eye-opener.

This group of part-vaudevillian, part-gypsy, part-musical shape-shifting madness is releasing its third studio album today (March 31). And to help promote Kiss Kiss, a collection of 12 wide-ranging songs written and produced by husband-and-wife co-leaders Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni, Caravan of Thieves is premiering the video of “Home” at The Huffington Post.

Caravan of Thieves — also including Ben Dean (violin, viola) and Brian Anderson (double bass) — first came to my attention at the 2010 Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where I called this “rowdy bunch of unpredictable party animals” who hail from Connecticut “the most pleasant surprise of the day.”

Five years later, it’s the same as it ever was for this band of fast, funky, fun-loving folkies who cover everything from Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in their highly entertaining show. This ain’t no disco, this ain’t no novelty act, this ain’t no foolin’ around (OK, maybe a little of the latter).

CoT_Promo_6

Members of Caravan of Thieves (from left): Brian Anderson,
Carrie Sangiovanni, Fuzz Sangiovanni and Ben Dean.

The Kiss Kiss tour began last week in Colorado, and “it seems the altitude has gotten to us now,” Fuzz said before Saturday’s stop at the Walnut Room in Denver, their Mile-High State finale of the spring leg.

Judging by the video, shot by Fuzz and Carrie starting on the road in Florida and throughout their drive home up the East Coast, Caravan of Thieves remains quirky, comical, crazy, compelling … and quite adorable.

The Sangiovannis recruited good friend Dan Salazar of Perro Loco Films to get the New York City and Connecticut shots and handle the post production for the video, which took about a week to put together.

“He and his wife Nina, who’s a visual design whiz, also filmed and edited our ‘Raise the Dead’ and ‘Dead Wrong’ videos,” said Carrie, the down-to-earth darling of the group who shares vocal, guitar, percussion (and even the retro-chic cover design of Kiss Kiss) duties with her animated mate.

Listen carefully, and you’ll hear some special guests providing background vocals on “Home.” Siblings Ian Holljes, Eric Holljes and Brittany Holljes, along with singer Elizabeth Hopkins, are members of Delta Rae, a rising North Carolina-based act about to release their second album, Chasing Twisters.

“They were recording at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at the same time we were, so Greg (Giorgio) and Peter (Katis) from Tarquin asked them and they were happy to join,” said Fuzz, the primary percussionist of the band whose instruments include pots, pans, cans and everything else but the kitchen sink.

So check out the video for “Home” and try to figure out the members behind the masks. Then, in the subsequent email interview, get some details about the video, the song and the album from the masterminds behind all of that. And make sure to see Caravan of Thieves, as its Kiss Kiss spring tour continues throughout the country, before this lovely bunch of coconuts makes it all the way home.

ROAD TRIP WITH FUZZ AND CARRIE SANGIOVANNI 

What else would you like people to know about the album?

Carrie: Though Fuzz and I self-produced the album, we had an amazing team of people to really bring our concepts to life, starting with the rest of the band as well as the engineers, our guest musician friends and a few ghosts who were just hanging around.

Kiss Kiss coverWhat inspired the very cool cover design for Kiss Kiss?

Fuzz: Bebop jazz and that era came to mind when thinking of our album title, so we went to some of my go-to jazz albums like the Lester Young Trio and a few Charlie Parker albums and the look and feel were perfect … with a little added passion and danger, of course.

Who’s the principal subject of the song “Home” and who are the “vampire leaders” and “bottom bleeders” he’s constantly fighting?

Carrie: The principal subject can be any one of us searching for a way back to a time when we were carefree and in the safety and comfort of a parent’s warmth.

Fuzz: In this song, the subject is looking for ways to fill that void and falls victim to the false sense of happiness being promised to him by the grown-up toys and lifestyle choices he’s chasing after, which often leave him feeling empty. The vampire leaders and bottom bleeders are the people who dangle those carrots in front of him.

CoT_HomeAnimals1

What do the four farm animals (pig, sheep, chicken, cow) represent in the video?

Fuzz: We mainly wanted to represent the four of us in Caravan of Thieves, each as a different animal character. But we weren’t really going for something Orwellian or Pink Floyd
Animals …

Carrie: It was more about the small toys being the inner child to the “adults” wearing the corresponding masks, who are trying to reconnect with that part of themselves.

Who’s who in the video? (I’m guessing Carrie is the sheep.)

Carrie: Good guess! And Fuzz wound up switching between the pig, cow and chicken since we didn’t have the rest of the band with us at the time. Plus we had our friends Joel and Cynthia Davis and Nina Salazar stand in to wear masks as well. It was in Joel and Cynthia’s house that we shot the ending sequences …

Where did you go toy shopping and where did you get the masks?

Fuzz: We had a pretty fun day of toy shopping at U.S. Toy in Apopka, Florida. The masks we found on Amazon.

What’s Caravan of Thieves’ means of transportation on the road and how many miles is on the odometer? Whose vehicle is it? Who does most of the driving?

Carrie: We, as a band, own a 2004 Chevy Express Van, which has over 300K on the odometer, but still is quite the workhorse.

Fuzz: Brian does a majority of the driving, he just gets in a zone and goes …

Away from the stage, what’s the craziest experience you’ve had on the road (that you can share)?

Carrie: Not sure how crazy this was but something we wouldn’t forget too soon is the time hanging out in the daylight at 1 a.m., lighting bonfires and having drinks on the tundra of Baffin Island, Canada. That was when we traveled up to the Arctic Circle to play the Alianait Arts Festival.

What’s the most popular item on the road menu? Which fast food restaurant is impossible to pass up?

Fuzz: We definitely all order this breakfast sandwich more than anything else: 2 eggs, cheddar, tomato and grilled onion on dry rye toast … to go, please.

Carrie: Since Brian and I are vegetarians and none of us eat much meat, we hardly do fast food, but Chipotle is a pretty common stop when our options are limited.

Favorite city to visit while on tour and why?

Fuzz: New Orleans, not sure this needs explanation …

What’s been the longest amount of time spent away from home? When was it and where did you go?

Carrie: So far, the longest tour we’ve done as Caravan of Thieves was about nine weeks in the spring of 2012. We covered most of the U.S. on that run, coast to coast.

CoT_Promo_4Where is “home” for each member of the group these days? Do you ever entertain thoughts of moving? 

Carrie: We all live in Connecticut. Fuzz and I live together in Bridgeport. Brian is in Bridgeport as well, just a few minutes away, and Ben is up in New Haven.

Fuzz: But we do occasionally have dreams of living some place warmer and less congested.

What do you miss most when you’re away from home?
 
Carrie: Our bed.

Fuzz: Our bed.

How long has Caravan of Thieves been touring and how long do you expect it to continue?

Carrie: It’s been about 6 years since we started leaving the state of Connecticut. Not sure how long it will go on, but if our Freaks keep coming out, we’ll keep entertaining them.

Caravan of Thieves publicity photos by Shervin Lainez. 

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Toy Kitchen Renovation: High-End Appliances, Gourmet Food

Elizabeth Kaplan’s 3-year-old son has a Le Creuset casserole dish, a high-end range and a utensil set that looks like it belongs on the set of “Top Chef.”

“It’s almost like Williams-Sonoma-quality stuff, but you know, for kids,” Ms. Kaplan says. Cooking appliances and upmarket foodstuffs are the most popular toys in her son’s Waltham, Mass.,…

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New technology and recipes with bolder flavors are making slow cookers a hip …

Hungry hipsters may not exactly jump for joy when the subject of slow cookers arises. But we’re not talking the recipes of old when a can of soup, poured over an unidentifiable cut of meat, cooked all day in the slow cooker.

We’re talking recipes with flavors that pop on the palate. This flavor revolution in the slow cooker comes from a variety of ethnic cuisines, as well as the wise use of additions such as chutneys, preserves and spiced-up canned tomato products.

There are plenty of new features that make slow cookers easier to use than ever before (see sidebar), but innovative or upscale slow cookers are not required to make great dinners.

Current recipes, bolder flavors and a change in cooking techniques are adding new excitement to even older-model appliances.

Here are some of the best ways to maximize flavor:

Herbs and seasonings

Seasonings fade when slow cooking. Add dried leaf herbs and seasonings at the beginning of the cooking period, then taste toward the end of the cooking period and add additional seasonings if desired. Fresh herbs should be added at the end of the cooking period. Use dry minced or granulated garlic instead of fresh minced garlic for the truest garlic flavor when slow cooking.

Don’t shy away from using hot sauces, chilies, curry powder, vinegars and other readily available seasonings and sauces when slow cooking. They add variety and bolder flavors to your dishes.

Brown or sauté meat first

Browning the meat or sautéing the vegetables first adds a rich depth of flavor. It once was recommended only when the meat was fatty, such as for ground beef, but now we realize that browning meat adds much to the flavor of the dish.

If busy mornings demand it you can eliminate this step; we won’t tell. But for the best flavor, brown ribs or roasts or sauté the onions or mushrooms before slow cooking.

Reduce the liquid

Not every dish in a slow cooker needs to swim in liquid. Many recipes today begin with only 1/2 cup of broth or wine, may simmer with just a can of diced tomatoes, or even roast or caramelize without added liquid. The flavor of caramelized onions, roasted beets or pulled pork from a roasted pork shoulder, cooked with little or no liquid, is supreme.

Pick the ideal foods

Prepare soups, chili, stews, roasts, beans and dishes that benefit from slow braising. Meat cuts that are less tender, such as short ribs, pot roast and pork shoulder are ideal for the long cooking times. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which cooked quickly, will taste dry and leathery if you attempt to slow cook them for 8 to 10 hours.

Avoid overcooking

Slow cookers purchased in the last five to 10 years cook hotter than older models, and newer recipes often reflect this. You may now hear the lid jiggle from steam, see the sauces boil even on the low setting, and discover the food tastes dry and tough if cooked for the maximum cooking time listed.

Always cook the meat until it is fully cooked and tender, but if you have encountered overcooking, you may want to check the cooking progress at the minimum cooking time listed and experiment with different, newer recipes.

Use newer recipes

Newer recipes are readily available, and popular cookbook authors have entered the slow-cooker arena. Cookbooks share slow-cooker recipes specifically for Mexican, French, Indian, Mediterranean and other cuisines as well as regions of the United States, such as the Southwest and New Orleans.

The American Heart Association guides heart-healthy slow-cooker recipes, while others explore gluten-free, vegan, Paleo and low-carb.

Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are professional home economists known as the Electrified Cooks. They blog at pluggedintocooking.com and for Chow Town.

New features for slow cookers

More than 80 percent of all households in the United States own slow cookers, and sales continue to climb each year. If you are part of the minority that sold your slow cooker at a garage sale years ago and gave up on the concept, you may want to rethink your decision, because technologically speaking there’s a whole new world of slow cooking out there.

Slow cookers today range in size from 1 quart to about 7 quarts, and from just one cooking vessel to multiple vessels in one base. The price reflects the size and features, so models can be found on sale at less than $20 and up to about $250.

Here are a few new features available today:

▪ Oval shape: Ovals are the best shape to accommodate ribs and roasts.

▪ Latching lids: From the tailgate to the potluck to the family feast, slow cookers today travel safely without spilling in the car.

▪ Programmable electronics: New electronic controls allow you to preset cooking times, delay the start or automatically turn the cooker to warm. The new Crock Pot 6-quart Slow Cooker with WeMo allows you to control the cooking temperature with an app from your smartphone, so if you are delayed you can turn the cooker to warm, or if you discover you will come home sooner, turn it to high.

▪ Temperature Probes: Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6-quart Programmable Cooker adds a meat probe to an electronic unit so that if you are cooking a roast or other piece of meat, the cooker automatically shifts to the keep warm setting when the meat reaches a set temperature.

▪ Multipurpose crock: Stoneware or heavy ceramic were the vessels of choice when the Rival Crock Pot was first introduced. Though still the most popular today, some units, such as the All Clad Deluxe 7-quart unit, features a nonstick cast aluminum vessel, which means you can brown the meat right in the vessel on the stove top and then place it in the base for slow cooking.

▪ Multi units for entertaining: You can serve two to three dips in one base in various brands of the multiple units, or attach several slow cookers in a row with the new Crock Pot Hook Up Compatible Entertaining System.

Beef Short Rib Ragu

Makes 6 to 8 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds beef short ribs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1 stalk celery, chopped fine

2 teaspoons dry minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 can (14 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup beef broth

1 pound wide noodle pasta

Parmigiano-Reggiano curls, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.

Place onion, carrots, celery and garlic in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to blend well. Place browned short ribs on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with dried thyme. Pour tomatoes, wine and broth over beef ribs. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Remove the meat from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon, leaving sauce in the slow cooker. Make sure to remove all the bones. Using the tines of two forks shred the beef. Set aside.

Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth. (Or carefully transfer the hot liquid to a food processor or blender, process or blend, then return to slow cooker.) Add shredded beef to sauce in slow cooker. Taste sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to heat on high for about 20 to 30 minutes until heated through.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Serve ragu over cooked pasta and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tips: Use a vegetable peeler to shave the cheese into curls. Leftovers freeze well.

Per serving, based on 6: 616 calories (54 percent from fat), 35 grams total fat (13 grams saturated), 132 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrates, 56 grams protein, 305 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Tortilla Soup With Avocado Mash

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 to 4 corn tortillas (about 6 inches in diameter)

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 (32-ounce) carton lower-sodium chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, with juice

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon dry minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 tablespoon salsa

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Minced cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is lightly browned. Drain.

Tear the corn tortillas into bite-size pieces and place in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Place chicken, onion, red pepper, corn, jalapeno pepper, broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper in the slow cooker. Stir to blend. Cover and cook on low 5 to 7 hours.

In a small bowl, mash together avocado, salsa, garlic and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of avocado mash and garnish with cilantro, cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.

Tip: For a milder flavor, use 1⁄2 jalapeno or reduce chili powder to 2 teaspoons.

Per serving, based on 6: 386 calories (37 percent from fat), 13 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 24 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 503 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Farmhouse Peach Crisp

Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted

8 cups sliced peeled, pitted fresh peaches

Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

Vanilla ice cream

Butter a 4-quart slow cooker or spray with nonstick spray.

Combine the sugars, 1 cup flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until it forms coarse, even crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Set aside.

Place the peaches in the slow cooker and toss with the lemon juice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour over the peaches and toss lightly. Gently stir in half of the sugar-pecan mixture. Sprinkle the remaining mixture evenly on top of the peaches. Cover the slow cooker and bake on low for 21/2 to 31/2 hours or until the topping is melted and peaches are tender. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips: Toasting pecans intensifies the flavor. To toast the pecans, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted.

If you are craving peach crisp in the dead of winter, go ahead and substitute frozen peaches for fresh.

For a fun serving idea, ladle servings of Farmhouse Peach Crisp into individual serving bowls or individual cast iron skillets. Top each serving with ice cream.

Per serving: 396 calories (32 percent from fat), 15 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 21 milligrams cholesterol, 65 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 135 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Source: The ragu and tortilla soup were developed exclusively for Chow Town readers by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. The peach crisp is a sneak peek at their upcoming “Slow Cooker Desserts, Oh So Easy, Oh So Delicious!” by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore (Publisher, St. Martin’s Press) to be released in the fall.

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Check who’s participating in farmers markets this year

The Salem Saturday Market kicks off this weekend and the Monday Market at Salem Hospital begins May 4 and the Wednesday Market begins May 6.

According to Salem Saturday Market, the vendors participating at one or more of the markets during the 2015 market season include:

2 Sisters

4 Spirits Distillery

4-T Acres

AMR Farms LLC

Anja’s Jewelry/Buster’s Treats

Arcane Cellars

Art for Oregon

Aunt Klara’s Best

Austin Farm

Bahama Mama Shaved Ice

Bar A Pottery

Bass Jewelry Sculpture

Better Than Mama’s

Beyerle Farm

Big Poppers Kettle Corn

Bird Houses and More

Blackberry Junction

Bling by Beth

Blue Raeven Farmstand

Boones Ferry Berry

Botanical Sweets Treats

Branching Out Oregon

Bridgman Wire Jewelry

Butterfly Flower

Cacioppo’s

Cafe Moka LLC

Candlewood Glass

Cape Foulweather Coffee

Capricorn Creations

Caramelappleicious

Casa de Tamales

Cascade Baking

Cascade Baking Company

Cascade Buffalo Ranch

Cedar Treasures

Cha Meng Family Farm

Chang Family Farm

Clay Dimensionals

Cowdawg Creations

Crochet by Sharon

Croissant Co.

Crunchytown Naturals

D V Pewter Accessories

Dancing Cat

Delightful Baked Goods

Denison Farms

Dish It Up! Whimsyz

DND Workshop

Donna’s Crochet Necklaces

E Studio/Triple R Designs

Eagle Crest Arts

Earth Essence

Edgemaster Mobile Sharpening

Egan Gardens

Elephant Garlic

Elizabeth Stewart Soap

Ely Green Garden

Esotico Pasta

Fireflies by Sherlock

Frey’s Dahlias

Garden Color

Garden Thyme Nursery

Gingifer’s Kitchen

Gloria and Gale Creations

Goosefoot Farm

Grandma Chonga’s Salsa

Grandma’s Creations

Grandma’s Gift Closet

Grandma’s Sewing Basket

Great Harvest Bread Co.

Greens Bridge Gardens

Greenwillow Grains

Hambln’s Nursery

Handcrafted 4 You, LLC

HarmonyJACK Farms

Harold’s Best

Harriett Shamberger

Heidi Grant Designs

Henny Farms

Hensley Metal Glass

Heritage Farms NW

Hibbard Enterprises

Hillcrest Nursery

Hmong Farm

Honest to Goodness

Hostaworld

Houa H Yang Cane Juice

House Spirits Distillery

Iko Farms

Intuitive Touch Massage

Jack Of All Crafts

Jo’s Holiday Designs

John Beck Pottery

Junkyard Garden Art

Justy’s Jelly

Kat’s Kreations

Kicking Glass Studio

Kind Candles

King Fresh Produce

LP Designs in Glass

LR Nursery

La Casa Del Taco

Lakeside Berry Farm

Late Night Creations

Laurie’s Fiber Arts

Lavender Haven

LeFore Blueberries

Lenny’s Clocks

Linda Soeby

Living Stones Creations

LouGraphics

Love Is Handmade

Lucky Flower Farm

Lucys Tropical Juice

MR Dog Treats

Madrugada Pottery

Magnetic Jewelry

Marc’s Dreamwood Studio

Margot’s Cafe

Marion-Polk Food Share

Mark Hebing Pottery

Mark’s Caramel

Martinez Family Farm

Maty’s Peruvian Food

Melting Pot Candy

Meltings

Michael Barley

Mightfly

Mimi’s Booth

Minto Island Growers

Misty Mountain Farms

Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream

Mom’s Farm

Mousepads More

Mr. Bob’s Custom Woodworking

Mrs. Clugston’s Bakery

Mt. Hope Farms

Myriad Cake Design

N.E Rocks Jewelry

Nancy Lewis Jewelry

Natural Inspirations

Needle`n On

Needlecraft Creatures

Nikko Farm

Nutty Nannies Milk Soaps

Nuvoglas

NW Goods/April Showers

Oak Villa Farm

Oregon Crepe Cafe

Oregon Grown Emu

Osprey Farm

Outlaw Grill and Catering

OzWorkz

Paradise Alpaca Ranch

Patti-Knitts

Perennial Obsessions Nursrey

Persephone Farm

Pickin Up The Pieces

Pleasant Valley Bakery

Poole Family Farms

Potential Bag Lady

Precious Henna 786

Qvist Design

R R Greenhouse Nursery

R J Woodcraft

Rags + Bones

Rain Forest Mushroom

Raymond Kuenzi Farm

ReCandle Company

Red Rooster Farm

Rice Plate

Rick Steffen Farm

Rocks of Ages

Rofe Designs

Roger Paulson, Artist

Rose City Totes

Rosie’s Scottish Goodies

Rudy’s Custom Leather

Saladfarm

Sambas Baskets

Santa’s Stocking Works

Sherry Terry Lowells

Shine Essentials

Simply Sine

Something Green

South Barlow Berries

Spin River Meadows

Spring Spuds LLC

Sprouts Kids Gifts

Steel Bridge Coffee

Sugar Lilly

Sunflower Acres

Sunnyview Blueberry Farm and Barnwood Designs

Suoplushie

Sweet Soapy Bath Bakery

Takodas Trading Post

The Berry Patch

The Bone Wizard

The Bread Board

The Flower Lady

The Hummus Stop

The ol’ Bag Lady

The Pretty Pickle Co.

The Sensitive Baker, LLC

The Soothe Chef

The Spoiled Cat

tj Glass Art

Turino Metals

Turn-A-Round

Veun’s Garden

Vivacity Spirits

W.C. Kester Apiaries

Waltons Gardens

Wavra Farms Nursery

Wayne Smith

Whiskey Hill Berry Garden

Whitehotglassworks

Wilco Strawberry Farms

Willametta’s LLC

Willamette Valley Cheese

Willamette Valley Produce

Wired On Beads

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Kitchen Remodeling Tips For A Smart Investment

Kitchen remodeling can be an expensive and taxing process. As a homeowner, you can’t be entirely sure that you’ll get your money’s worth if you decide to spend thousands of dollars completely renovating your kitchen. Rather than gutting the room and starting over, why not do smaller projects? You can change up the look and feel of your kitchen for less than the cost of a remodel — and you’ll still get a new room for a fraction of the cost. Here are some small-scale kitchen renovation projects that will pay you back in spades: (To read about varying approaches to home renovation, see article: 4 Types Of Home Renovation: Which Ones Boost Value?)

1. Add a fresh coat of paint.

Rather than knocking out the walls and starting fresh, take a few steps back. Look at the condition of your walls. Depending on their current state, you may spend considerably less to add new patterns and designs to the existing walls. You might also refresh them with a few coats of paint. Paint gives you the ability to personalize or update your kitchen, depending on how old it is and how much wear and tear it has endured over the years. The cost to paint a kitchen will vary, but expect to pay between $350 and $600 on average.

2. Find creative storage solutions.

Unless your kitchen is completely cramped, there’s a good chance you have unused existing space where storage could go. Consider installing open shelving in tight areas where appliances may not fit. You could also move bigger appliances such as the refrigerator a few inches to the left or right to open up space for cabinets or shelving.

If your pantry is looking particularly crowded, reorganize it and see about installing lazy susans or spinning spice racks to open up more space. These are inexpensive options that open up space and make the kitchen easier to work in.

3. Add decorative accessories.

To enhance your kitchen’s design without removing its existing pieces, consider investing in decorative accessories. Some pieces you might add include:

  • Pendant lighting with an appealing design
  • A rug made of carpet and different colored squares
  • Artwork that matches your new paint job
  • Candles that add natural light and fragrance

There are a variety of accents you can add to your kitchen, depending on its design and your budget. You can always speak with an interior decorator about what best suits your space. Decorators usually have access to sources homeowners don’t, so you never know — they might find that perfect piece for your kitchen!

4. Update the light fixtures.

Depending on the age of your kitchen, there’s a good chance that its lighting fixtures are outdated and consuming high amounts of electricity. Older homes were built with fluorescent and incandescent lighting and nowadays it’s best to look at greener alternatives. You can go one of two ways when updating light fixtures: (For related reading see: Ways To Slash Your Home Energy Bill.)

  1. Replace old bulbs with CFL light bulbs, which cost anywhere between $10 and $20 at a home improvement store.
  2. If you have hanging, chandelier-like lighting, you can replace your lighting fixtures with recessed lighting for about $400.

Investing in the second option yields long-term results for two reasons: one, you avoid hitting your head against hanging lamps, and two, it gives your kitchen a modern look and feel that increases its appeal to future buyers. Hanging lamps are a good option if they are placed over a butcher block or are otherwise out of the way.

5. Build cabinets vertically.

Another option to optimize the space in your kitchen without remodeling it is to use all of the vertical space. Oftentimes, homeowners decide to build cabinets and shelving horizontally, which takes away a lot of the space above and below them. However, if you build cabinets that reach from the floor to the ceiling or stack on top of each other, you can better optimize the wall space. It might be harder to reach the cabinets that are near the ceiling, but you can have a stepladder nearby if needed.

If you don’t want to pull out your old cabinets and start over again, you can also make use of the leftover space above by storing items you don’t use often — big pots, pans, vases and so forth. Depending on the space between the top of the cabinet and ceiling, there could be a lot of extra room for storage.

The Bottom Line

Without spending a large amount of money, a homeowner can make strategic updates to his or her kitchen that can make a world of difference. (For related reading, see article: Home Improvements That Really Pay Off.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of HomeAdvisor and are subject to change at any time due to changes in market or economic conditions. The comments should not be construed as a recommendation of any individual holdings or market sectors. This material does not constitute any specific legal, tax or accounting advice. Please consult with qualified professionals for this type of advice.

Investopedia and HomeAdvisor have or may have had an advertising relationship, either directly or indirectly. This post is not paid for or sponsored by HomeAdvisor, and is separate from any advertising partnership that may exist between the companies. The views reflected within are solely those of HomeAdvisor and their Authors.

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Creating the ultimate Easter table setting

(KMSP) –

Putting together the perfect Easter table is more about keeping a few points in focus, the rest can fall where it may. Spring entertaining means pastels/muted tones, which is actually very on trend right now in the tabletop industry. I live a #CollectedLife, so the pieces I am using are vintage and not readily available in stores. The key here is to casually shop year-round for these items so you aren’t panicked when the holiday is a few days away. Here are some of my tips that I adhere to:

Muted/Pastel tones – This can be in the dinnerware or glassware you set your table with. New pieces are readily available, I tend to go the vintage route using Lu-Ray or Fire-King Jadite. I paired some vintage egg-shaped plates on the show with a gray-scale plate by Pillivuyt available at Williams-Sonoma or my faux bois dinnerware available at 50+ retailers across the country.

Glass, Glass and More Glass – Be it clear or colored, glass adds a sense of lightness to a table, which is perfect for Spring entertaining when meals become less heavy. I follow suit like in the dinnerware side of using vintage pieces I’ve collected for decades, even vintage milk glass in different shades or mixing bowls to serve dishes in – let your lifestyle determine what pieces you use.

White/Ironstone – White is essential all year round, yet more so with Spring due to the fact it lends to a cleaner/more crisp feel as the meal becomes lighter. I put ironstone in here because although it is no longer made, the color palate is a bit creamy and the history behind these pieces brings a sense of tradition to the table.

Natural Elements – Using wood, fresh herbs or vegetables on the table bring the outside – in. On the show I featured small nests I found, as well as olive wood-handled flatware that I found at Pottery Barn years ago.

Other elements to consider – Yellow ware bowls for serving, alabaster eggs (Williams-Sonoma sells them every year at this time), vintage glass covered dishes, pedestals/cake stand for placing dishes to keep the eye moving and add visual interest.

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