The Edible Pioneer Valley Cookie Collection

The Edible Pioneer Valley Cookie Collection

A collection of holiday recipes to sweeten every table

By Edible pioneer Valley, with help from our readers | Photography by Dominic Perri

No matter what you’re celebrating, nothing says “welcome!” like a tray of cookies. This holiday season, our gift to you is this collection of cookie recipes: Recipes from fellow readers, recipes from family, recipes from friends. We hope they make your winter memories that much sweeter. 

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Make and Share: DIY Food Gifts for Cooks of all Ages

Make and Share: DIY Food Gifts for Cooks of all Ages

When my family moved to Northampton two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that our new street had an annual holiday tradition. Just days before Christmas, each neighbor arrived at our door bearing a gift—mostly homemade goodies, and all quite delicious. There was a jar of honey one had harvested from his backyard hives, a bottle of boozy raspberry syrup, cookies, chocolates, and more.

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The Edible Pioneer Valley Gift Guide

The Valley’s bounty runneth over, especially as a resource for gift giving! There are endless options for locally produced presents. We asked some of our favorite local foodies for their recommendations and are pleased to serve them up to you!

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2015_Oct20_EdiblePioneerValley_001 copy

Thank you to the members of our food-lovin’ crew

The whole crew at CISA 

 Kim Nyiri,

Meat & Cheese Department Manager,

Franklin Community Coop

 Lisa Ekus, The Lisa Ekus Group

Rus Peotter, General Manager, WGBY Springfield 

Michael Kusek, Publisher, Take Magazine 

Aurora Sjostrom, Culinary Demonstration Specialist, Whole Foods Market 

Natasha Latour, Marketing Manager, River Valley Market 

Scott Soares, State Director, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture 

Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director, The Western Mass Food Bank 

My favorite small gift (for adults) is a bottle (or more … ) of Black Birch Winery Corot Noir. It’s local, made by great people who run a wonderful, fun, responsible, and committed operation.  Even better, it’s a relatively unknown varietal and, frankly, pretty good wine. (At press time, Black Birch had sold through its stock of Corot Noir, but they have other varietals in stock and ready for gifting!)––Rus Peotter 

Picked up a bottle of Valley Vinegar’s apple cider vinegar at Atkins and loved it! Plus it’s cool that they have vinegars named after places in the Pioneer Valley, and a New England collection too. ––Lisa Ekus

An oyster or shiitake mushroom-growing kit from Mycoterra Farm—these make a great gift for kids (who love to water them and watch the mushrooms grow) or adults (who can enjoy several rounds of delicious mushroom harvests). ––CISA

Gift baskets are a fun and delicious way to give the gift of local flavor. Here at Franklin Community Co-op we have a generous selection of locally produced cheeses, charcuterie,  grocery items, and gift cards that would make a delicious gift basket anyone would enjoy! ––Kim Nyiri

Sriracha from The Kitchen Garden for its perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and sassy. I keep one bottle in my fridge and one backup in my cupboard at ALL times.––Lisa Ekus

A local beverage—to add local flavor to holiday festivities; this could be a bottle of local wine or mead (paired with local cheese?), aStoneman Brewery beer jug, or a bottle of local hard cider (maybe together with local apple or pear varieties in a taste-of-the-orchard basket?)––CISA

Farmers’ market tokens––a great gift to encourage the ones you love to pick out exactly what they want! ––CISA

Here at the Food Bank we’re huge fans of Shabadoo Black and Tan Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company. 10% of all Shabadoo sales benefits the Food Bank! ––Andrew Morehouse

Old Friends Farm Ginger Syrup for sure! It’s great for cocktails and warm drinks. ––Aurora Sjostrom

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2015_Oct20_EdiblePioneerValley_002 copy

A taste of summer from Bug Hill Farm for when winter hits and you forget what fresh fruit tastes like. (They offer cute gift boxes as well.) ––CISA

Hilltown Blue Cheese from Grace Hill in Cummington is among my favorites. It has a great flavor sure to make any cheese lover happy.––Scott Soares

Grace Hill’s Wild Alpine is a gruyere-style raw milk cheese that will grace any table. ––Natasha Latour

Pekarski’s sausage in South Deerfield has a range of great products … but I particularly like their linguica, a Portuguese sausage that brings me back to New Bedford and my heritage. Don’t be fooled by the Polish name, great job on a Portuguese favorite! ––Scott Soares

Shelburne Honey Company’s creamed honey is great on toast, or on a cheese plate. ––Aurora Sjostrom

Maple cream! ––Michael Kusek

12 Years Without Christmas

 By Kristen Davis 

The first lesson in the restaurant business: Weekends and holidays are for chumps. It’s a guarantee that Friday night, when the world is celebrating the weekend, you’ll be working. Mother’s Day, working. Easter, working. Christmas? It’s not fair, but that’s the job, and the sooner you let go of your beloved holidays the less disappointed you’ll be when another can’t-be-missed celebration comes around—and you miss it.

I had an easier time letting go of the holidays, because I set off to travel the world when I was 19. As a chef, often working at remote island resorts, there’s no time for the holidays. Besides, it’s hard to get into ye olde Christmas spirit when you’re sweating it up in 90° tropical heat.

My third Christmas in Thailand, I was single, sad, and missing home. The closest thing to Christmas dinner I could find was a McDonald’s cheeseburger. I snagged a rather suspect bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that looked more like a rosé and tasted like cider vinegar. I sat on the beach and ate my burger and fries while washing away my tears with a bottle of questionable life choices. The bottle was done by noon and so was I.

Some years the holidays were more joyous than that one, but the traditions I’d grown up with had long been forgotten. Christmas dinner was more likely to be a barbecue and game of beach volleyball than presents under the tree. These days, paradise is just a daydream and the start of another chilly New England winter brings the promise of the holidays. I have a young son now, so I’ve started a few new traditions to share with my family.

The First: Close the restaurant on Thanksgiving and Christmas. For a restaurant owner, there are never enough days off, so I’ll take this excuse and leave the business to the Chinese delivery joint down the street.

The Second: We MAKE Christmas magical. But I spent a decade with all of my worldly possessions strapped to my back, so walking into a store and paying for Christmas really isn’t my style. We make our decorations, presents, and traditions. Each year the family strolls around the neighborhood foraging for materials: twigs and branches, holly snipped from a neighbor’s yard, a few dried flowers and leaves. After a trip to the grocery store for some popcorn, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and other aromatics, it’s time to decorate the tree. Armed with a hot glue gun and delectable bottle of red wine for the grownups, we laugh and sing as we craft our ornaments. We dehydrate orange wheels; bake simple, indestructible gingerbread cookies (cinnamon, water, and seasonal spices); glue popcorn kernels to sparkly gold ribbon, and tie cinnamon sticks alongside twigs and berries to create a tree that is truly magical.

The Third: The holidays are all about the food … I mean family. Let’s face it, chefs are really in it for the food. I’m not RSVPing to Thanksgiving dinner to see my second cousins, I’m coming for my second helping of turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Oh, pie. The best part of the holidays is eating food we don’t have to cook. Feast of the Seven Fishes? Make it 11 and you can guarantee I’ll be back next year.

As my family grows, we add new traditions and borrow some from my wild adventures. Maybe next year we’ll break out the water balloons to ring in the New Year.

Kristen Davis is an award-winning chef, international restaurateur, and entrepreneur. Her current project, The Platinum Pony, in Easthampton, showcases her craft cocktails, creative snacks, and eclectic nightly entertainment. For more info visit or find them on Facebook here.

Kristen's Indestructible Gingerbread recipe