Monday, July 9, 2012

A Little Blue to Brighten Your Day.

As I was getting ready to put together one of my more favorite breakfasts, it struck me that I should be sharing this with all of you!  Especially now that fresh blueberries are gracing the stands of local farmer's markets.

This bowl of deliciousness is a snap to prepare, is nutritious, and will keep you feeling satisfied well in to your day.  I can't think of anything better than that!

There isn't even a title for the recipe.  If you have a clever idea let me know. :)  Here's what's in it:

1.  Butler Farms sheep's milk ricotta cheese 
(also can substitute cottage cheese or another ricotta)
2.  fresh lemon zest
3.  REAL Maple Syrup
4.  fresh blueberries
5.  sweet Churna sprinkle
6.  slivered almonds

So let's talk about the ingredients a bit and put breakfast together:

1.  For one serving, put half of a container of Butler Farm's ricotta cheese in a bowl.  Her containers look to be about 8 oz. 

Butler Farms is the first licensed Grade A Sheep's milk dairy in the U.S. and is located in Whitehall, WI.  Proprietor, Janet Butler was an early member of Wisconsin's elite group of women cheese makers, a group that is growing in number every year.  She runs a specialty organic farmstead operation and does so in a very quiet manner.  She has no website, no prestigious marketing plan (her cheeses speak for themselves), and no ambition to grow her farm beyond its current humble size.  The only location I am aware of to purchase her cheese in our area, is at the Dane County Farmer's Market (She has a small table with an awning along E. Mifflin St. on the capitol square.)

Though she makes a variety of unique and interesting cheeses, including one of the only local camemberts, I have fallen in love with her ricotta.  It is creamy, with a light crumble, and deliciously mild with the sweetness only fresh milk can impart.  Yes, I could buy other brands of ricotta at most grocery stores (and I do during the winter months), but why would I when I can get this fresh, local product all summer long?  Because this cheese is so fresh and natural, it does not have a long shelf life.  Plan to eat it within a few days, or freeze it.

Janet only brings to market what she can sell in a day.  If she sells out of her ricotta before you get there, pick up another one of her cheeses to enjoy, then head to the Murphy Farms stand on Carroll St. and pick up some of their cottage cheese which makes a nice substitute.  Murphy Farms also has a stand at the Westside Community Market on Saturday mornings in the DOT parking lot.

2.  Zest a quarter of one fresh lemon over your bowl of ricotta cheese.  

The important thing about using the zest of any citrus fruit is that you only want the colored portion of the rind.  That's where all of the delicious oils are.  The white pith part of the rind is bitter and is not what you want in any of your food or cocktails.  If you don't have fresh lemon, Penzey's dried lemon zest could be substituted, but you'd want it to have been softened.  You could do this ahead of time by mixing a 1/2 tsp of the dried zest in to your small container of ricotta and letting it sit over night.  

3.  Drizzle a tablespoon or so of real maple syrup over the top. 

Please, for the love of all things holy, if you don't have real maple syrup in your pantry, dispose of the imitation liquid that you do have and pick up some real Wisconsin Maple syrup.  If you read the ingredients on your imitation syrup you may be shocked to see that it contains NO actual maple syrup!  You can find real maple syrup everywhere, including nearly every farmer's market in the state.  This was a rough year for maple syrup harvesting due to the warm winter and early spring, so supplies may dwindle sooner than later.  Yes, real maple syrup costs more than the "lite" chemical concoction sold as maple syrup in most grocery stores, and it should.  It takes a lot of love and work to get the sweet sap from the trees in to a bottle on the shelf.  And in addition to that, it is a nectar produced by Mother Nature that not only tastes better than artificial syrups but is a much healthier option.  You don't need "lite" maple syrup.  The real stuff has so much flavor you won't need to use nearly as much of it and the complexity of the sugars make it an easier load on your body than the corn syrup found in the artificial variety.  I buy Grade B syrup as it is less refined and has even more punch of flavor and color.

4.  Top with as many fresh blueberries as you can stand!  I use a 1/2 C. or so.  

Blueberries are in season right now, yeah!  I LOVE blueberries.  And, this time of year I enjoy as many as I can fresh, but I also freeze many pounds of them in pint bags so I can enjoy them all year round.  Blueberries are not only delicious but they are also nutritious.  They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and flavonoid antioxidants (those molecules of immune boosting fame).  Don't wash your berries until you're ready to eat them and store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator.  If you are looking to save yourself some money you can pick your own blueberries at The Berry Farm in Baraboo, WI.  They have very limited picking hours so be sure to check their website before making the drive.

5.  Sprinkle on a little sweet Churna.

Okay, so this is kind of "outside the box" but it's a seasoning mix you'll love keeping on hand.  If you're not in the mood, you can just sprinkle your berries with a little cinnamon...though it won't have quite the same impact.  Churnas are a blend of spices used in Ayurvedic cooking to stimulate different characteristics in the body and bring balance to our doshas.  Sound like I'm speaking another language?  Well, that's because I am.  Ayurveda (ay-er-vay-da) is an ancient form of medicine from India that treats the body, mind, and spirit based on natural principles and innate characteristics.  Therapies aim to bring balance to these forces within the body.  Much of Ayurveda's medicine is in the form of the food and beverages we consume.  I use a Vata/Kapha sweet Churna when it's cold outside and a Pitta sweet Churna now while it's hot.  These spice mixes are delicious and can be added to nearly anything you would want to add a bit of sweet spice to.  The below Churna recipes come from Patty McCormick, a local Ayurdedic practitioner and educator.

Vata/Kapha sweet Churna:                                                Pitta sweet Churna:
8 parts cardamom                                                               2 parts cardamom
2 parts ginger powder                                                         1 part cinnamon
1 part cinnamon                                                                  1 part dried mint
                                                                                             1 part dried fennel

6.  Finish it off with a hefty helping of slivered almonds.

And if you want to keep it local, use some of the local hickory nuts you can by at the Dane County Farmer's Market.  God bless the sweet souls who still collect, crack, and clean the tasty morsels so we can have a local source for these special nuts.

Relax and dig in!!


  1. Alyssa, you are my most favorite blogger ever :) I mean it! I so enjoy every single post, and you are so inspiring! This looks VERY good, and has a lot of flavors I crave. I wish I had a clever name for this perfect breakfast! I'll probably just call it "perfect breakfast" myself :)

    Thanks so much for all the information and the recipe!

  2. My gosh Sarah! I just now saw that your comment didn't get posted! I'm so sorry and I had also written a nice reply...not sure what happened. I love that you love my blog and so much appreciate that support. With all of the blogs you follow, it means a lot to me that you enjoy my little corner here in the blogosphere. You have been since the beginning and will continue to be an inspiration to me. Enjoy your "perfect breakfast"! That's pretty much what I call it too. Buon Apetito!