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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
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Do you ever wonder what becomes of the contestants on competition shows like “The Great British Bake Off’’ and its stateside spinoff, “The Great American Baking Show,’’ after the cameras stop rolling and all the episodes have aired? Andrea Maranville, of Sherrill (Oneida County), a self-taught home cook and baker who appeared on season four of “The Great American Baking Show’’ in 2018, has been immersed in both the art of baking and the hard work of getting a small business up and running. She was named “star baker’’ on the first week of the show -- when she impressed... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Eat First
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Leah de Rosa and Mark Pawliw inside the future home of the Eden Fresh Network food hub Join Mark Pawliw for a visit to the Central New York Regional Market on a Saturday and you’re going to be there for a while. He knows the market inside-out and has cultivated relationships with many of the farmers and producers who set up shop there each week. “It’s my happy place,’’ Pawliw says. “He’s like the mayor of the market,’’ adds Leah de Rosa, Pawliw’s partner in a new start-up, the Eden Fresh Network hybrid food hub. Pawliw’s and de Rosa’s connections... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2022 at Eat First
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Here’s some grate news: The Eastwood neighborhood of Syracuse now has a cheese shop. That cheese shop is The Curd Nerd. For months, Sarah Starace and her fiance, Matthew Simiele, have been renovating the wedge-shaped storefront at the corner of James Street and Collingwood Avenue into a bright and welcoming space. The walls are painted a buttery yellow and the space is filled with greenery from Found Things Co., a plant shop that has taken root a couple doors down Collingwood. One of Sarah’s goals with her shop is to stock as many local cheeses as possible and support local... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2022 at Eat First
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Do you have a favorite condiment? My favorite condiment of late is Hot Crispy Oil, a combination of olive oil and fried garlic, shallots and hot chili peppers. I’m kind of obsessed with it and keep exploring new ways to use it. Hot Crispy Oil is produced in the Albany area. It’s a pandemic project turned entrepreneurial success story for chef and former restaurant owner John Trimble. Trimble created Hot Crispy Oil in his home kitchen when his family’s restaurant, La Serre, was shuttered and he was home cooking for his family, according to the website. When the Trimble family... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2022 at Eat First
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Make ramen bowls at home with ramen kits from Kasai Ramen, Syracuse. Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2022 at Eat First
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Are you looking ahead to the holidays? One of the best ways to enhance your gift-giving is to think local and shop small for memorable, one-of-a-kind gifts. Besides, when you buy local, you keep dollars in the community and support someone’s business and dream. Following is a list of 10 local “foodie” things that make great gifts for family, friends and party hosts. Enjoy the holiday season! P.S.: My monthly local food newsletter, coming out soon, will focus on local places to shop for items like this. To subscribe, leave a comment below. Your email address is required to leave... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2021 at Eat First
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I love cheese. So, when I heard there’s a new cheese shop and tasting room in downtown Oneida, I thought: What a gouda idea! (Sorry, I can’t resist a pun.) The shop, Callee 1945, opened in September and is owned and operated by Abbey Woodcock and her husband, KC Baney. The business got its start last year as a two-day Black Friday cheese pop-up shop at the Oneida Freelance Co-Op. The couple was looking for a storefront, and eventually decided on the space at 134 Main St. The shop is a roomy space with a cheese counter, a high-top table... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2021 at Eat First
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You've heard the expression "grow food, not lawns.'' That's what Chellsea Jones does at her home off Teall Avenue in Syracuse, a couple blocks from Henninger High School. Jones and her partner, Jacob Eichten, bought their house on Robinson Street in 2009 partly because it has a big kitchen and partly because it's on a double city lot. There, Jones has established Sweet Venus Farm. Some would call it a micro-farm, farmette or city farm, but Jones calls it an urban homestead. It’s a magical place where she raises enough produce to feed herself, Jacob and their three children --... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2021 at Eat First
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Planning a trip to the Finger Lakes is easy-peasy. The hardest part, always, is deciding where to visit. For those of us who live in Central New York, the country’s third-largest wine producing region is a go-to day trip. Some of the wineries that dot Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake are an hour away. For our latest Seneca Lake outing, we stayed overnight and didn’t have to make the drive home. A friend invited us to enjoy the apartment upstairs from her house, about five miles south of Geneva, which she plans to list on AirBnB. It was relaxing to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2021 at Eat First
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I've been using CBD oil, also called tincture, for a couple of years now. I take the dark brown oil via a dropper, under the tongue, several times a day. It brings some relief to my achy joints and helps me get a better night's sleep. In Central New York, we're fortunate to have several companies that produce CBD products from seed to bottle. CBD, a derivative of the hemp plant, is something that people seem to have a lot of questions about. I know I did when I started using it, and I'm not sure I would have started... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2021 at Eat First
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I grew up on Hofmann hot dogs and have been eating them my entire life. In moderation. I like the German franks and beef franks with natural casing. Grill 'em up outdoors or on the stovetop and add a thin stripe of German-style mustard -- I don't even need a bun. It's a true taste of Syracuse. The Hofmann Sausage Company has been around for more than a century and continues to evolve and reach new customers by introducing new products, like beef jerky, hunter sticks and condiments. The company recently introduced a line of chicken sausages and asked Central... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2021 at Eat First
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The holiday season looks different this year. Very different. Online shopping grows in popularity every holiday season and is expected to be huge this year, as a result of COVID-19. But now, more than ever, is a great time to shop local and support small businesses. If you don't want to visit retail establishments in person, curbside pick-up makes shopping safe, easy and convenient. Shopping local has many advantages. Studies show that buying local benefits local economies: Independently owned businesses tend to invest a greater share of their revenues in the local economy than chain stores do. Shopping local can... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2020 at Eat First
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The 1988 Grumman rescue vehicle that chef Gerald "Jerry" Bolton and partners rolled out as a food truck this summer had a long life traveling to fire scenes a couple counties away, in Geneva. Now it's a state-of-the-art mobile restaurant kitchen, serving upscale, firehouse-themed food at public and private events around Syracuse and Central New York. "It's fun,'' says Bolton, who is best known as the executive chef at The Oncenter in downtown Syracuse. "We have a good following. We change the menu up every time we go out.'' Partners in the project are Bolton, his wife, Susan, and Chuck... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2020 at Eat First
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There are many small, artisan wineries in the Finger Lakes region, but perhaps none so small as Randolph O'Neill Vineyard, on the west side of Cayuga Lake. It is literally a one-man operation. The winery is owned and operated by Kelley O'Neill (above) and his wife, Angela. Kelley grows the grapes, manages the vineyard, makes the wine, bottles the wine and brings the wine to market -- he's a multi-tasking solopreneur. Angela, a financial consultant, manages the business end of the winery and helps out with the harvest -- which is coming up quickly, early October, Kelley believes. Randolph O'Neill... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2020 at Eat First
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I like to know where our food comes from. Last week, a good amount of our fresh produce came from western Onondaga County. On Sunday, I took a leisurely drive -- partly because it was a beautiful day, partly because I wanted to get out of the house and partly because I wanted to visit three farm stands. En route to the last stop, I passed two other roadside farm stands. It is a blessing to live in an area with such an abundance of agricultural riches, this time of year and during the time of COVID-19, especially Delaney Farms... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2020 at Eat First
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It's that time of year: The zucchini in your garden seems to multiply overnight. Or someone shows up at the office with a shopping bag full of zucchini and says, "here -- take some home.'' Had your fill of zucchini bread and zucchini boats? Try something different -- zucchini butter. It takes about an hour to cook a couple pounds of zucchini down into a soft, buttery paste that can be tossed with pasta, spread on grilled bread or used in place of sauce on a pizza. Or, spread it on toast and top it with a poached egg --... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2020 at Eat First
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What's it like to do a wine tasting in the time of COVID-19? We'd been wondering that for a couple weeks, since wineries were given the go-ahead to operate somewhat as usual as part of the third phase of reopening in New York State. So on a sunny and breezy Sunday, we set out for the Finger Lakes to see for ourselves. In a word, the experience is different. Gone are the days, at least for now, of driving down the road with no set agenda and dropping in on a whim. Also missing is the convivial atmosphere that comes... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2020 at Eat First
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The scene on a recent Thursday at the CNY Regional Market in Syracuse. One of the advantages of shopping at farmers markets is chatting with growers and local food producers and getting to know more about them, what they do and and what they have to offer. "Know farms, know food.'' Things are a little different now. Farmers markets in New York State have been deemed "essential'' during the coronavirus pandemic, but markets are also following stricter guidelines. If you haven't been to a market lately, you will notice there's more room between vendors. Some markets have arrows marking one-way... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2020 at Eat First
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Sarinthra (Sara) Tong-Ngork has logged more than 20 years in local restaurants. Her resume includes stints at Lemon Grass, Bangkok Thai, Alfa Bar and Dining Room, the Century Club and Bellevue Country Club, among others. Come fall, she will venture out on her own as one of eight merchants at Salt City Market, the food hall scheduled to open at 484 Salina St., across from the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Sara's stand, Firecracker Thai Kitchen, will feature Bangkok-style "street food:" soups, curries, noodle dishes, salads and more. Her menu is in development and she has been going through the steps of... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2020 at Eat First
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Does the thought of grocery shopping in the time of coronavirus stress you out? If you answered yes, you're not alone. Lots of folks are making as few trips to supermarkets as possible -- and using shopping services like Instacart to avoid stores entirely. Some local stores, farms, restaurants and other businesses have stepped up to make it possible for you to leave the shopping -- or some of the shopping -- to someone else. By ordering a local produce box, for example, you can limit trips to the store for cooking essentials like onions, carrots and potatoes and at... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Eat First
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Shelly Bornemann has been cooking most of her life, but her food philosophy and priorities took a turn in 2006, when she visited an animal sanctuary in Maryland with a close friend. "What impacted me the most that day was when we visited the pig barn,'' Bornemann recalls. "I was surprised to see how expressive their eyes were, just like human eyes. One of the pigs was roaming freely around the grounds and followed me like a faithful dog and it made a huge impact on me. My experience that day was the catalyst to my vegan journey.'' Bornemann became... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2020 at Eat First
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To remind people that it’s possible to come to the table in the time of coronavirus -- without sitting next to or across from each other -- four Central/Upstate New York chefs pooled their energy and creativity to collaborate on "Social, from a Distance -- a Virtual In-Home Dining Experience.'' Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2020 at Eat First
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Julie Platt-Opanhoske is used to cooking for a crowd. At home in Sennett, near Auburn, she cooks for her husband, Chris, and four kids (ages 10, 16, 18 and 20). And as owner of Carriage House Catering, she cooks for gatherings of 50 to 100 or more. Opanhoske (pronounced Ah-PEN-ah-ski), 43, has been cooking all of her life. Her grandfather DeMassi was a cook in the Army and he and her grandmother, "Nana Rose,'' cooked Italian-American specialties and regularly hosted family dinners with adults and kids crowded around the table. "I think that's where I get my 'cook for an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2020 at Eat First
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Chad Miller presents a platter of Chicken Yakitori. See recipe, below. Chad Miller has a passion for music, photography and art. So, it’s no surprise that he also likes to express his creativity in the kitchen. Miller, 43, grew up in the Oneida County village of Holland Patent and took early note of his mother’s skills in the kitchen and appreciation of good food. He has since branched off in his own exploratory, global-influenced direction. He’s not afraid to experiment and being an artist, he’s all about presentation, too. Miller says cooking at home in the time of coronavirus isn’t... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at Eat First
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I thought about making a big pot of soup for friends who are grieving the loss of their sister to cancer. I also thought about making each of them a healthy salad. I considered making a couple of quiches. I also pondered baking some muffins or cupcakes for them. Then I thought about food writer and cookbook author Alison Roman's opening line in her guide to making macaroni and cheese that appeared in The New York Times: "Macaroni and cheese is like a hug wrapped in a warm sweater, unparalleled in its ability to comfort and satisfy.'' Bingo. That's what... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2020 at Eat First