Category: Herbs

The Vinaigrette

When Dan and I got married, dear friends gave us a wedding gift of a wooden salad bowl and tongs, as well as several favorite salad and vinaigrette recipes.


Eventually the tongs took on multiple uses, such as a drumstick for banging pots and pans when my boys were toddlers, and sadly, one day the tongs broke.  But we still use that wooden bowl for delicious salads, which, at their very core, consist of fresh greens and a vinaigrette.

The basis for every vinaigrette is three parts oil mixed with one part acid. The acid is usually a vinegar but can also be a citrus juice.  You can make any amount of dressing that you want and add all sorts of good stuff, but if you want the dressing to mix well and taste good, stick to an approximate 3:1 oil/acid ratio.  

How to choose your oil and vinegar?  1) Whatever tastes best to you!  2) Whatever complements your salad toppings. Here’s what I choose from most often:


  • olive
  • avocado
  • canola
  • sesame (in combination with olive or canola)


  • balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • unseasoned rice vinegar
  • lemon juice

Combine your oil and vinegar in a jar or bottle, add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and shake, shake, shake it! You’ve just made your own salad dressing. 

If you want to get a little more creative, here are some of my favorite ingredients to add, NOT all in the same dressing.


If you’ve never made your own dressing before, please don’t let all these lists intimidate you! Think of them as tools for unleashing your creative culinary genius on your next salad.  If you’d like specific recipes, here are a couple combinations I used in the past week.

For the single-serving salad I posted about on Monday, I made this:

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 T avocado oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • one clove minced garlic

On Sunday I made a chopped spinach salad (8 oz spinach) with blue cheese, chopped Paula Red apples, and caramel corn.  (Yes, caramel corn.  What can I say–I ran out of pecans but had just opened a bag of Chicago style popcorn!)  We’ll call this a honey mustard vinaigrette because syrup mustard just doesn’t quite sound right.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Rogers Golden Syrup (I ran out of honey.  Fortunately I had this cane syrup that, sadly, you can only purchase in Canada.  Thanks to my parents and Canadian relatives for keeping me stocked in this deliciousness!)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Note: My 8-year-old Harper declared this salad delicious and a little sour–I took that as an okay to make it again this week. 🙂

If you don’t use all your vinaigrette at once, it can be stored in the fridge for a week or longer, depending on your ingredients.  Make sure to shake it up again before using to mix together the oil and vinegar.

What’s your favorite vinaigrette?

Photography: Anne Kingma 

Recipe: Greens with Maple Apples and Onions

In the spring and fall, when fresh greens are abundant and delicious, I often eat a salad for a lunch.  I throw a bunch of Perkins’ Good Earth Farm baby lettuce or spinach in a bowl, then search the fridge for toppings.  I know some people aren’t big fans of leftovers, but I’m not one of them.  Leftovers turn my bowl of greens into a meal complete with protein, veggies, fruit, fats, and carbs. 


For instance.  A few weeks ago, I made Pork Chops with Maple Apples for dinner, a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens’ weeknight cooking features.  Since pork chops are somewhat of a treat in our family, I didn’t have any leftover meat, but I did find surplus maple apples, aka apples sautĂ©ed with onions and garlic, then simmered in apple juice, cream, maple syrup and thyme.  I warmed up the apples, placed them on my greens, and topped the salad with toasted almonds for flavor and crunch.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t have enough leftovers for a second bowl.


While you don’t need to make pork chops to enjoy this salad, you just might want to.  When I first made this, I used my cast iron skillet to cook the pork chops, then used the same skillet—without cleaning it—to cook the apples and onions.  If you want only the salad without the chops, you could use a little bacon fat along with the olive oil to get some pork flavor.


First, fill four individual bowls or plates with one cup (for a side salad) or two cups (for a main dish) of salad greens and/or baby spinach.  Set aside.

If you’ve made the pork chops, your skillet should be hot and ready to go.  If not, heat it up over medium-high heat and work on your food prep.

Start by coring and slicing two cooking apples; I used Jonathan.  Next, slice a small red onion (or half of a medium-large onion), and mince two cloves of garlic


Once your skillet’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to sizzle.  Add your apples, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook for just a couple minutes, stirring every now and then.


Add a quarter cup of apple juice or cider, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.  


While the apples are cooking, mix 1/3 cup whipping cream, one tablespoon of maple syrup, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs).


Pour this mixture over the apples in the skillet and cook for a couple minutes, until the sauce is heated through and starting to thicken.


Spoon about a quarter cup of apple mixture over each bowl of greens, then top the salads with a sprinkling of toasted almonds.  Enjoy!


Note: If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.

Scroll down for the printable, and let me know how your salad experience turned out! 

Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma


Greens with Maple Apples and Onions
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  1. 4-8 cups salad greens or baby spinach
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil and/or bacon fat
  3. 2 cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  4. 1 small red onion, sliced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. ÂĽ cup apple juice
  7. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  8. 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  9. 2 tsp snipped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  10. ½ cup toasted almonds
  1. Fill four individual bowls or plates with 1-2 cups of salad greens and/or baby spinach. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil or bacon fat in skillet. Once fat is sizzling, add apples, onion and garlic to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add apple juice and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.
  4. While apples are cooking, stir together cream, syrup, and thyme. Pour over apples and onions in skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until the sauce is heated through and beginning to thicken.
  5. Spoon about a ÂĽ cup apple mixture over each plate of greens. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy!
  1. If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.
Adapted from Pork Chops with Maple Apples
Perkins' Good Earth Farm

Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Carrots

There’s almost no better way to eat a homegrown, cool-season carrot than raw. 

harvesting carrots

crated carrotsRenowned winter grower Eliot Coleman writes, “The tastiness resulting from fall growing and cool-soil storage elevates the humble carrot to another plane.”  Dan and I agree.  During a busy harvest morning, we’ll pull a carrot from the ground, brush it off, and enjoy a crunchy, sweet snack in the middle of the garden.

Dan enjoying a freshly harvested carrot

harvest with a smile

In my opinion, however, there is another “best” way to eat a garden-fresh carrot, and that’s roasted.  You can roast carrots on their own, tossed with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and herbs, or you can roast carrots the way I like to do it—beneath a chicken.

Start by completely thawing your chicken in the refrigerator.  (For me, this means taking the chicken out of the freezer two days ahead of time.)  When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and let set for 30 minutes on the counter.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then get started on the prep work.

First, you need to make the herb butter that makes this chicken so delicious.  Cut 6 tbsp of butter into a bowl (or food processor if you want to speed up the process).  Beat the butter with a spoon or fork until it’s soft and smooth.  Chop up fresh parsley, fresh thyme, a green onion (all from your share!), along with 3 cloves of garlic.  Toss all this deliciousness into the butter, and add the lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper.  Stir it all together and set aside.

herb butter

Next, prep your vegetables.  Peel and quarter the onion.  Trim the carrots (you’re always welcome to trim a little extra for a snack!).  Spread the carrots and two of the onion quarters evenly in your roasting pan, and spoon the sherry over the vegetables.

Now back to the chicken.  Start by patting the skin dry with paper towels.  (In order for the chicken to roast crisply, the skin needs to be dry.)  Place the two remaining onion quarters inside the chicken cavity, then tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Spread half the herb butter over the breast side of the chicken like so:

breast side up

Then turn the chicken upside-down (breast-side down) on the roasting rack, and carefully dab on the rest of the herb butter:

breast side down in pan

Roast the chicken in this position for about 20 minutes, until browned, then remove both the chicken and the vegetables from the oven.

Turn the chicken breast-side up, where it’ll stay for the rest of the roasting process.  Baste the chicken with the juices from the roasting pan.  Flip the carrots and onions so that they’re thoroughly coated with the basting juices, then return everything to the oven.

Roast for 55-70 minutes longer, depending on the size of your chicken.  During this time, baste the chicken and vegetables once or twice more.  If the chicken’s getting too crispy for your liking, tent the bird with tin foil to protect it from burning. The chicken is done when the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. 

After removing the chicken from the oven, wrap it in tin foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, keep those carrots and onions hot!  I often leave the veggies in the oven to continue to roast because I like them best when they’re at the transition point between well-browned to beginning-blackened.  If that’s not your preference, remove the veggies and wrap in tin foil.

roasted carrots

Admittedly, this recipe is somewhat time-intensive, but I think the end result—fall-off-the-bone chicken, literally-melt-in-your-mouth carrots—is worth every single minute.

plated herbed chicken

For the printable of this recipe, scroll down.

A Couple Notes:

1) For this recipe, I used a chicken that we raised on pasture here at our farm.  We’re not currently raising or selling broilers, although we might in the future!  We encourage you to purchase chickens that are raised humanely, such as Miller Poultry sold at Tysens in DeMotte.  

2) You know I’m not finished with a post until I’ve mentioned something about green smoothies!  Carrot tops are full of nutrients, and while I don’t recommend using only carrot tops as your green, I do suggest throwing a few fronds in with your spinach or kale.  Let me know what you think!

Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Carrots
Serves 4
A whole chicken and homegrown carrots roasted with herbs and butter.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
  1. 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs
  2. 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  3. 12 medium-sized carrots
  4. 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  5. 6 tbsp butter
  6. 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  7. 1 tbsp chopped green onions
  8. 1 tsp chopped thyme
  9. 1 tsp lemon juice
  10. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  11. Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Remove chicken from fridge and let set for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Cut butter into a bowl and beat with a spoon or fork to soften. Add parsley, green onions, thyme, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Thoroughly combine butter and herbs. Set aside.
  4. Trim carrots but do not peel. Spread carrots and two onion quarters in roasting pan. Spoon the sherry over the carrots and onions.
  5. Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels. Place remaining onion quarters into the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  6. Spread the herb butter all over the chicken. Place the chicken upside down (breast side down) on a roasting rack.
  7. Place the roasting rack over the roasting pan and place in preheated oven.
  8. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until browned. Remove chicken and vegetables from oven. Turn chicken over so that it’s breast side up, and baste chicken with juices from roasting pan. Flip carrots and onions, making sure the vegetables are well-coated in basting juices.
  9. Return the chicken and vegetables to the oven. Roast for 55-70 minutes, basting once or twice during that time, until the internal temperature measures 165 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh. Tent if necessary to prevent burning.
  10. Remove chicken from oven. Wrap in large sheet of foil and let set for 15 minutes.
  11. If necessary, continue to roast carrots and onions while the chicken rests, until vegetables are completely roasted and browned.
  12. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Arrange vegetables around the chicken. Garnish platter with fresh parsley. Take a picture. Carve and enjoy!
Perkins' Good Earth Farm
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