Monthly Archives: April 2013

Stone Soup at the Movies!

Join the Stone Soup Cafe’ as we screen the award winning documentary

A Place at the Table                                                              

April 24th @ 6:30pm – Greenfield Garden Cinema

A Place at the Table Trailer

Your ticket purchase will be a contribution to the Stone Soup Cafe’, so please bring your friends and help support our community as we fight hunger and build awareness towards local, nutritious food.

See you at the movies!


A little something for those chilly spring nights.

The first day of Spring has come and gone, chased by a final (…probably) snow storm, reminding us that winter takes its time in leaving Massachusetts. At the first hint of warm weather we put away our woolens and head outdoors; the days may be sunny and warm, but the evenings can still be raw and bone-chilling. This makes for a perfect maple syrup season (ooh, foreshadowing, possibly?) but can leave many of us feeling cranky and uncomfortable. That’s why I keep a mason jar full of chai concentrate (decoction) in my fridge, ready to blend in a mug of warm milk. (I even froth mine with a french press before adding the concentrate, which makes it feel super indulgent.) The herbs I use stimulate blood flow, aid in digestion, and have anti-bacterial properties to help you keep away those last minute colds, too.

Making a decoction (or concentrate) is very similar to making a quick infusion (like when we make a cup of tea). Rather than pouring hot water over herbs and doing a quick steep, we simmer them together in a pot until the water has reduced in volume by about half. Not only does this result in a stronger flavor, but it allows us to get all that tougher roots (astragalus) and barks (cinnamon) have to offer, in a way that a quick steep couldn’t.

Watching people bundle back up in the nighttime chill (after a nearly 70 degreen day!) as I sip my own mug of spicy chai made me want to share my recipe, which has been adapted from many other recipes over several years:

‘Warm Me Up’ Chai Decoction (Concentrate)
2-3 cups of concentrate

24 cardamom pods
18 whole allspice
9 inches cinnamon bark
3 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 teaspoon whole cloves
3 inches piece fresh ginger root
3 inches dried astragalus root
4-6 tablespoons of regular or decaf black tea OR red rooibos tea OR no tea at all.
3 -4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey or more to taste (maple syrup may be used)

1. Coarsely crush all spices in a mortar and pestle, or by wrapping in a tea towel and crushing with a rolling pin.
2. Combine crushed spices and water, and bring to a boil, with the lid on (for now leaving out the black tea, or other tea, if using).
3. Reduce to a simmer for 30-90 minutes, with the lid off. (The amount of time needed will vary
4. You have two options here: You can remove the pot from heat and steep as long as you’d like (overnight, even), to get a spicier concentrate, omitting or adding black tea later -OR- you can remove from heat and add black or other tea now, steeping for 5-10 minutes.
5. Strain all herbs through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth or cotton muslin, and decant in to a mason jar with a lid. Add desired amount of honey or maple syrup. Store in the fridge for longest shelf-life
6. When you’re ready for a cup of chai, heat a cup of milk on the stove, bringing to a quick boil (keep an eye on it! It can boil over quickly!) Optional: Pour milk in a french press, and plunge carefully but quickly, until milk is light and foamy. (It will at least double in volume, keep this in mind, and make sure the spout side is turned away from you so you don’t get burnt.)
7. Pour 1/3 cup of concentrate in a mug, top with frothed milk, and enjoy the warmth.

Experiment! This is how I like my chai, but you can add any number of spices and herbs to this: fennel, anise, orange or lemon peel, cacao…

Though these organic herbs are not local, they can be purchased in an ethical, sustainable way which supports small farmers in countries financially dependent on exports.

[ For more information on buying spices and herbs in bulk, check out Acadia Herbs is a well-stocked herb shop in downtown Northampton, MA, with a friendly, knowledgeable owner and staff ready to answer any questions. ]



Limiting Fossil Fuel Use

When laboring a small farm it is pertinent to have as many efficient tools as necessary, and that generally means limited fossil fuel operated machinery.  That is just what you will find here at Leaping Frog Farm.  The entire land is shaped and nourished by hand except for the one combustion engine machine.  This machine is unbelievably efficient in the efforts of tilling large area of earth.  It would make less sense to do it by hand and hoe, unless of course that is your only means.  Within an hour I had the entire hooptunnel up and turned, just about two thousand six hundred square feet.  There are many tools needed due to each task having its own demands, a pair of sturdy hands and a critical thinking mind go a long way too! This process allowed the limestone and phosphorus minerals to be well mixed in with soil.

Let the Growing Season Begin!!!

The days are longer, the sun brighter; the birds are singing and the maple sap has been flowing strong.  These are all tell-tale signs that an abundance of local and seasonal food is on it’s way to the Stone Soup Cafe’ Farmers around the valley (working especially hard at Just Roots Community Farm!) are busy starting seeds and planting the crops that will be the foundation of Stone Soup menus.

Pretty Soon, the kitchen counter at Stone Soup will look like this…

Until then, we are offering lot’s of things to be excited about, even beyond the amazing food (which we could write a whole blog post in and of itself!)  On Saturday March 30th we are hosting an open house at the Cafe’ please join us to experience the cafe’ in all it’s awesomeness, and be sure to bring a friend, ask us questions, learn how to get involved, and just have relax with great people and even better food…wait, I mean the people are better than the food…but the food is so good…darn, I can’t decide, they both are super duper great with maple whip cream on top (we had that last week on homemade Mexican sugar cookies, by the way!)

That’s Greenfield ↑, if you zoomed way in on the red star, you would see Just Roots planting a bunch of vegetables. You would see the farmer’s market getting ready to launch on Main St., and a whole cast of amazing volunteers making the Stone Soup Cafe happen each week.  What do these three things have in common??? Interesting you might ask, because Stone Soup is teaming up with Just Roots to host a monthly Local Food Cafe’ where we will highlight the amazing local food this valley has to offer on our menu and elsewhere.  We will also be launching a joint Farmer’s Market Table to bring the gifts of the cafe’ and Just Roots out onto the streets of Greenfield!

Starting April 27th                                                                                                                come to the cafe’ to learn about and experience local foods with the Stone Soup Cafe’ and Just Roots.                                                                                                     

See you there!!!