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Margaret McCormick
Syracuse, NY
I'm Margaret McCormick and in my past life I was the Food editor at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY. I love food, words and my home turf of Central New York. This blog combines my loves.
Interests: travel, cooking, baking, cookbooks, locally grown produce, locally made products, locally owned restaurants and specialty food stores.
Recent Activity
Photos courtesy of Matt Peirson and Simple Roast Coffee (Facebook) It has been a busy year for Matt Peirson. In the last couple months alone, he purchased a business property in Auburn, married the love of his life and said so long to his job in "corporate America." In the next week or two, he will take Simple Roast Coffee Company to the next level, opening a double-window, drive-thru "coffee hut" on Grant Avenue (Route 5), in Auburn, near the Movieplex Theaters and Tractor Supply Co. The small building, which now wears a fresh coat of green paint, was formerly... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at Eat First
My mother's mother had a teeny-tiny garden in Olean, NY, where lily of the valley, peonies, bachelor's button and rhubarb grew in the spring. Growing up with a grandmother and mother who loved rhubarb and loved to make rhubarb pie, I thought everyone had an appreciation for the red- and green-streaked vegetable. Yes, vegetable. Not so. It's so tart and fibrous some people just can't get their head and taste buds around it. Rhubarb is sometimes called pie plant, because it is so often used in pies. I use it to make muffins and coffee cake and simmer it with... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Eat First
If you're among the thousands of drivers who travel along Route 5 near Elbridge, you've no doubt been watching the big, red, contemporary barn-like structure taking shape across the road from Tessy Plastics. That's Bailiwick Market & Cafe and it brings to Elbridge a combination of many things under one roof: a cafe serving breakfast, lunch and supper; ice cream parlor with soft serve and (eventually) homemade hard-pack ice cream; coffee bar and drive-through (coming soon) serving Cafe Kubal coffee; local goods marketplace featuring locally produced foods and locally made art; and, most important of all, a community gathering space.... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Eat First
Spring is here. It's time to lighten up our wardrobes, menus and beverages. If you're a red wine drinker in the winter and a white wine drinker in the summer, it's time to bridge the gap and drink the pink. By that I mean dry Rose from the Finger Lakes region. This is the season the pink- and cherry- and salmon-hued wines are released and celebrated. There are plenty of new choices each year, as more and more Finger Lakes winemakers embrace this style of wine and put their best red wine grapes into it -- Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at Eat First
I've never met a chip I didn't like. And I also love salsa. I almost always have a jar or two of Primo and Mary's salsa on the pantry shelf. It's a great local product created by Tina Conte McPherson, of Cazenovia, who works tirelessly to develop her recipes and products and sell them at local markets and in stores. SalsaCuse (all-natural premium salsa) is one of Tina's newer products. I hadn't tried it yet and thought about opening a bag of chips -- but decided to go down a healthier road and make some Southwest-style stuffed peppers with it.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2016 at Eat First
I've been to Ireland several times and never had anything resembling what we in the States commonly call Irish Soda Bread. We did enjoy hearty brown soda bread everywhere we went -- with no raisins, no caraway seeds and, I'm guessing, no sugar. It's wonderful -- even more so slathered with that amazing Irish butter. So maybe this recipe should be called Irish-American Soda Bread. Whatever you call it, this bread is easy to make and uses ingredients you are likely to already have on hand. There is no kneading and no need to run out and buy buttermilk, unless... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2016 at Eat First
These are blackened haddock tacos with Southwest slaw, a recent Friday lunch special at PB&J's Lunch Box on James, the recently opened storefront version of Pat Orr's popular PB&J's Lunch Box food truck. PB&J's is perhaps best known for Pat's signature grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a gooey, slightly crunchy delight, thanks to the addition of chopped pecans. The sandwich earned Pat the Judge's Choice award in September at the first food truck competition at the New York State Fair. The "brick and mortar'' location is at 989 James St., in the Imperial Gardens apartment building. It's tucked a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2016 at Eat First
I'm not usually a fan of brown liquor. But add some cream and vanilla and a hint of caramel and I'm in. Blame it on Tina Conte McPherson, of Primo and Mary's Salsa, for getting me hooked on Black Button Distilling's Bespoke Bourbon Cream. Black Button is a craft distillery (with tasting room) located a stone's throw from Rochester's Public Market and Rohrbach Brewing Company. Its products include gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon and moonshine (corn whiskey), made in small batches from local grain. It even makes a limited-edition lilac gin, in honor of Rochester's famous lilacs and Lilac Festival. Black... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2016 at Eat First
A small, storefront restaurant and take-out operation offering a fresh take on the iconic Central New York fish fry is earning positive word-of-mouth and bringing diners to Solvay. The Fish Friar opened in late fall on Milton Avenue, across the street from the Solvay Diner. Owners Joel Canino, Giovanni Giardina and Brad Vinciguerra have created a destination for fresh fish -- plus unique side dishes -- that's simply but elegantly prepared. If you like fish fry, or fish prepared more healthily, check it out. THE VIBE: Clean and industrial. The sleek, stainless steel order counter and open kitchen area feature... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Eat First
Photo courtesy of Robert Poormon A reader of my food stories in the Syracuse New Times reached out to sing the praises of Basil Thai Cuisine restaurant in Phoenix, Oswego County, and suggest I check it out. That was more than a year ago. I heard more enthusiastic reviews and made a mental note to check it out when out that way. But I'm rarely out that way. After Christmas, craving something fresh and flavorful, we made our way there. The restaurant is about 25 miles from our home on the east side of Syracuse and a couple miles north... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at Eat First
So many cookies, such little time... Each holiday season, I like to try at least one new cookie. This year I settled on Maple Pecan Refrigerator Cookies, a new (to me) cookie that I made for an annual cookie exchange with friends this past weekend. The original recipe appeared in Parade Magazine in 2012. This cookie is grainy and crunchy, like pecan sandies, with a texture similar to shortbread or sable cookies. It's also very buttery. The recipe appeals on several levels: One, it's a refrigerator cookie, which means you can make the dough ahead and slice and bake the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2015 at Eat First
I've probably killed a tall tree or two over the years, printing out recipes from favorite websites like Epicurious, Food52, the Food Network, etc. I've also been socking away pages of recipes clipped from magazines like Martha Stewart Living, Cook's Illustrated, Real Simple and others. Until recently, I kept all these recipes in a big, fat, three-inch thick heap, stuffed inside an old Cook's Illustrated magazine until the magazine came apart. Then one day, I could no longer stand it. I pulled the recipes out, went through them one by one and downsized the pile to make it more manageable.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2015 at Eat First
It's fall, but I'm conflicted. I don't want to plunge headlong into braising and roasting and soups, stews and slow cooker meals because we'll be eating them for many months to come. So as long as there are still tomatoes at the market, I'll have one foot in summer and one in fall. I had a ball of fresh mozzarella in the cheese drawer and decided to try a different approach to the classic Caprese -- with roasted tomatoes. Roasting tomatoes in the oven is easy and intensifies their sweetness. Let them cool a bit before serving them on mesclun... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2015 at Eat First
Fall is here. September has been summer-like, but darkness comes sooner each day. The evening air is cool and leaves are slowly starting to change color. Farm crops are being harvested and roadside stands are aglow with the red and orange of apples and pumpkins. The Central New York calendar is full of all sorts of fairs and festivals and other events to celebrate fall. Here are three events coming up this weekend that are sure to please local food enthusiasts. Photo courtesy Baltimore Woods Family friendly brunch – and a walk in the woods Pancake breakfast meets Sunday brunch... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2015 at Eat First
Long before there was the express lane and self-checkout at the grocery store, there was the self-service farm stand. You've no doubt stopped at a place like this: You pull off the road, seduced by a sign with an arrow that says ASPARAGUS -- or sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, eggs, honey... or all of the above. You look around for someone, then walk to the table or into a small shed or makeshift store, and find a notepad, pen, adding machine and cash box. This is what is known as The Honor System, and it's a time-honored tradition: The... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at Eat First
Many people come to Seneca Falls to visit the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Women's Rights National Historic Park and the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Many more pass through on their way to the wineries that make up the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail -- and to their camps, cottages and homes in the Finger Lakes. Sauders is a destination for food adventurists, "a unique country store'' that has grown from 10,000 square feet to 40,000-plus square feet -- the size of an Aldi or small Tops store. It's not a restaurant, but it... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at Eat First
How many times have you been to a restaurant, scanned the wine list for local and regional wines and found one lone selection of Finger Lakes Riesling -- or, worse, no New York wine at all? Say something! The New York Wine and Grape Foundation, based in Canandaigua, has updated its "restaurant card'' -- a "leave-behind" that diners can use at restaurants that don't feature New York wines. On the inside is space for the customer name and phone number and the date of the meal. On the back is contact information for the NYWGF for restaurant owners who want... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at Eat First
Photo courtesy of 2 Kids Goat Farm You love goats. You love how they bleat as they greet you. You love how frisky and friendly and sometimes naughty they are. They nibble the buttons on your shirt and climb all over you and your car and clamor for your attention. You also love goat milk and goat milk cheeses: crumbly chèvre spread on a bagel, feta crumbled on a salad, halloumi fried or grilled as an appetizer. If you love goats, goat milk products and the Central New York countryside, mark your calendar and get to 2 Kids Goat Farm,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2015 at Eat First
One of the things I miss the most about working downtown is the Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market. I've been trying to get there for more than a month now, but relentless rain on Tuesdays has kept me away. Today, at noontime, it wasn't raining (at least for the moment). So I headed downtown with my market basket, allotted market allowance ($20) and a fist-full of change for on-street parking. This vibrant and bustling market, at Clinton Square, features more than 40 vendors, many along West Water Street, and always draws a good crowd. Before making any purchases, I scoped out... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2015 at Eat First
When Stephanie Weidner Lipsey, market manager of the Fayetteville Farmers Market, asked me to go on "Bridge Street Live" (News Channel 9 - WSYR TV) with her to help promote the market -- and make a dish using ingredients from the market -- the answer was a no-brainer. Sure! Why not? The Fayetteville Farmers Market, now in its second year, is a good one, with nearly 40 vendors (no re-sellers) offering a diverse range of goods. In addition to in-season, local produce, the market has vendors offering meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurt, milk, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies, salsa, pesto,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Eat First
1. Arrive early. Or arrive late. At the CNY Regional Market in Syracuse, this means up and at 'em bright and early on Saturdays for a 7 a.m. shopping spree. This is when the fish monger has his best and brightest selections available. And you'll appreciate the emptier aisles. On the flip side, there are advantages to shopping later, too. The selection might not be the best, but some vendors discount their goods as closing time approaches so they don't have to cart everything away. 2. Case the entire market before making purchases. This might not be feasible at the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at Eat First
The Ridge Tavern is a restaurant that's off-the-beaten path. You could easily drive by it on Salt Springs Road in Chittenango -- we almost did. The sign doesn't scream at you and the tavern itself is about a third of a mile off the road, through the woods and overlooking the Robert Trent Jones-designed Ridge golf course. We don't play golf, but we do have a handful of friends who live near Chittenango, and three of them were at the restaurant the Friday we visited. We took that as a good sign. With its interesting menus, well-executed food and friendly,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2015 at Eat First
From deep-friend peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to udon noodle Asian stir-fry to Filipino-style eggrolls filled with seasoned beef and pork to artisan wood-fired pizza to tater tots smothered in spicy sauce -- there's a food truck offering to suit every taste. It took some time for them to catch on in Syracuse and it took some time for them to find a regular home, but if you have an adventurous appetite and an appreciation for "street eats,'' get yourself over to the weekly Food Truck Rodeos, held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday, in the parking lot... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Eat First
My mother used to make us chocolate cakes (and white cakes) with "boiled" frosting for our birthdays. I can see her making it, in a clear glass Pyrex double boiler on the stove. When the mixture of sugar and egg whites reached a certain consistency and temperature, she got out her hand mixer and whipped them until thick and frothy, sort of a cross between meringue and marshmallow. Yum! For my mother's and sister's birthday in March, I decided to make a somewhat froufrou devil's food cake with "boiled" frosting. Lacking Mom's recipe, I turned to the recipe for Fluffy... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2015 at Eat First
Watch a bartender make a cocktail these days and you might be left thinking you need a lot of fancy ingredients and equipment -- and a degree in chemistry -- to pull off cocktails at home. But all you really need is the RIGHT ingredients, a measuring glass, metal shaker, a jigger or shot glass, some simple math skills (2 ounces x 2 ounces = 4 ounces), a little confidence and a willingness to taste and experiment. I signed up for a workshop called Mixology 101 at the Savvy Wine Cellar, in Camillus, last month. James Reed, bar manager at... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at Eat First