Sweetpskitchen on learning how to keep honeybees

I am taking a 14 week beekeeping course at Stone Barns in Pleasantville, NY. It has been the highlight of my spring so far! The class is part lecture, part practical (in the apiary, hands on.)


Our class is taught by two local beekeepers, Dan and DJ. They are great teachers and so passionate about backyard beekeeping…they are inspiring me to look for a way to make a living with my passions.

We are learning everything from the life cycle of a honeybee to the global impact of honeybees. We are also learning how to install bee packages, manage hives, prevent swarms, and eventually how to extract honey (if applicable!) there will be a lot more to discuss about honey bees but I just wanted to update the blog about why I have been MIA for a while! I have become a newbie beekeeper and a backyard chicken owner in a few short months and the experience has been exhilarating!

Stay tuned!






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Organic “pick your own” at fishkill farms

Sweet P and I had a great time at fishkill farms in hope well junction, ny picking organic strawberries and picnicking on their beautiful grounds!

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Join Sweet P’s Grocery Store Challenge: Day 0



In an effort to eat locally, I am taking on a summer challenge to avoid the grocery store. Here in the Hudson Valley, we have bountiful food resources so I think it is time I put my money where my mouth is. A few key things will make this do-able but I think it is important to do your best…you don’t have to give it all up at once, but if you are going to try this stunt it is a good season to start. Grocery stores are great, and we really do have some good ones in Westchester. However, we rely so heavily on being able to get whatever we want when we want it and that is unsustainable. These are the steps I am taking to avoid grocery shopping all summer:

I am already part of a veggie CSA


through Roxbury Farm ( http://www.roxburyfarm.com ) and we just had our first share pick up this Wednesday. The boxes were overflowing with lush lettuces, sweet baby turnips, and fresh herbs. We also have a fruit share through Roxbury that starts in July.

My family also takes part in a cow share, through which we purchase our meat in bulk. We bought 50lbs of grass fed beef this year and we have gone through about half of that so that will be more than enough to last us through the summer months. This year, we tried a ‘pig share’ for the first time and we still have some frozen pork to go through.

Hopefully, our chickens will start laying eggs in july but until then, we will buy our eggs from local farmer’s markets:


We belong to a dairy coop that supplies us with raw milk, eggs, beef bones, soup chickens, etc so hopefully we won’t need the grocery store for those items. If you don’t belong to a dairy coop, a lot of farmer’s markets carry Hudson Valley Fresh milk in glass jars.


A few notes on practicality:

I am aiming to do this for my own family and I will try my hardest to keep it up in my own home. I do entertain a lot so if I am having a party for 30+ people, I will probably need to hit up a store. I also cook for other people in their homes, so I will be using store bought ingredients for them (whatever they have available.)

I will do a pre-season grocery store shop to stock up on the essentials that cannot be found locally:


Olive Oil

Coconut Oil


Coffee (there are some local coffee purveyors that I will use when I find them)


Wine (the wine shop doesn’t count as a grocery store does it???)


I think that covers most of the important food groups. Anyone interested in trying this?? Email me!



xo, SW and Sweet P









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CSA Veggie ID – Green Leafy Edition!

A refresher course on your CSA green and leafys!

Sweet P's Kitchen- #beautifulfood

Vegetable ID

A lot of the complaints I hear about having a CSA involve not know what the vegetables are and/or what to do with them. Here is a list of the vegetable I have gotten in my weekly CSA box and a brief description of how to use them.


We can start with the green and leafys

My general rule of thumb is ‘when in doubt, treat it like you would treat spinach.’ Obviously, as you get to know the taste and texture of the different vegetables, you figure out what is best eaten raw, steamed, baked, destemmed, chopped tiny, left whole, etc.


Baby Bak Choy (or full-sized)


Bak choy is part of the cabbage family. It is great steamed whole or chopped and tossed with garlic. The leaves can be used like a thick lettuce (spinach) and the stalks can be eaten like celery raw.


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Cottage Pie


I made my first cottage pie in 2005 when I was 21 for my boyfriend (now husband,) Martyn. It is his favorite meal from back home in England. I used a bag of ‘shepard’s pie’ seasoning, ground beef, and potatoes. Since then, I have gotten married, had a child, and perfected my own recipe using fresh ingredients.


For the Meat Mixture:

2 lbs grass fed ground beef

2 small/medium onions

2 tbsp flour (optional)

A handful of fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tbsp dried thyme

2 cups (ish) sliced baby bella mushrooms

Salt and Pepper

1 cup red wine

1 cup beef stock

2 tbsp tomato paste

Veggie Layer:

2 Carrots finely diced

2 cups peas (I usually use frozen or leave them out since I make this meal mid-winter when peas are out of season in NY)

Mashed Potato Layer:

6-8 medium sized russet potatoes (or any good mashing potatoes)

Note: you can leave the skins on if you like the texture/added fiber

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

1/2 stick grass fed butter

Salt and Pepper

Note- Mashed potatoes take a LOT of salt, just taste as you add a little at a time until you get what you like

A bit of good cheddar cheese to grate over the top

I like to use my 12 inch cast iron skillet but you can also use a baking/casserole dish for your final product.

In a separate pot, boil about a gallon of salted water for your mashed potatoes. Peel and roughly chop your potatoes. You can leave the peel on if you like, just make sure you clean the potatoes first 😉 Reserve your potatoes in a bowl with cold water so they don’t brown while you’re waiting for the water to boil.

Brown your ground beef and using a slotted spoon, remove the beef from the skillet. Leave about 2 tbsp of fat in the bottom of the pan. Sometimes using grass fed meat yields less fat than this. In that case, just add a little oil or butter. It does not have to be exact.

Throw your potatoes into the boiling water. They take about 15-20 minutes and they should be done around the same time the meat mixture is done. In a small saucepan, heat your cream and butter until scalded but not boiling.

Cook your onions in the fat until translucent. Add the mushroom and cook until browned. Add the tomato paste your thyme and flour and cook for about 2 minutes…the flour will begin to smell nutty when cooked. Add your red wine, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook down the wine a bit and then add your stock.

Add the carrots and peas to this mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add the ground beef back to the pan and stir to combine everything. Taste and adjust seasonings. The carrots and peas will cook through in the oven.

Drain your potatoes but don’t rinse. Add the cream/butter mixture and mash your potatoes with a masher. I like to throw this mixture into my stand mixer and whip them for 30 seconds but this step is not necessary. Taste and salt/pepper accordingly.

If using a casserole dish, butter it before adding the beef and vegetable layer and topping with the mashed potatoes. When I use my cast iron, I don’t butter it and it turns out great. Spread the mashed potatoes out over the beef and cover with some grated cheddar cheese and cover with foil.

Pop into the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes covered. Remove the foil/cover and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. If the top isn’t browned, you can put it under the broiler for a minute or two to get the cheese bubbling. Remove from the oven and let it stand for about 10 minutes. This will let the sauce around the meat firm up a bit so it doesn’t run all over your plate.

Serve with pickled cabbage or a side salad.

I hope this helps you snag a husband as great as mine is 😉

Enjoy, SW and Sweet P

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A little early for Easter egg dying but…

I got a winter share from my Vegetable CSA at


and it has been great…except for the beets. I have never seen so many beets in my life! I actually like beets but I cannot eat that many before feeling like I will turn pink and explode.

I came up with a good use for my beets that doesn’t exactly waste them, but doesn’t require that I eat them all either. I use them as dye. They make the most beautiful color when boiled in water and a splash of white vinegar. For Valentines Day, I used them in mashed potatoes to make them pink. They were a hit!

Peel and halve your beets and boil them with just enough water to cover them. I used about 5 medium beets and ended up with about 3 cups of dying liquid. When the beets are soft (about 20-30 minutes) and the water is pink, add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar and let the mixture cool. Drain and discard the beets and reserve the liquid.  Store the liquid in glass jars in the fridge until you are ready to use it. If you plan on dying food (like mashed potat0es) just skip the vinegar part. I used the beet water for pink pancakes and they were adorable.

Below you can see last year’s easter egg dyes. The yellow is a tbsp of turmeric boiled in about 1 cup of water and a splash of white vinegar.

The blue is frozen blueberries boiled in water + vinegar

The tan is coffee (can be made as strong or weak as you like) + vinegar

The red is red onion peels boiled in water + vinegar

Note: Another fun way to use these food dyes is in the snow…fill a spray bottle and paint the snow in your yard with different, harmless colors. If your child is like mine (and hates the cold, wind, winter air, etc), bring the snow inside on a baking sheet and make an indoor snow painting.

Enjoy! xo, SW and Sweet P

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