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Paonia Farm and Home Supply, also known as Paonia’s do-it-yourself center, wants to show your project(s) with pictures to inspire our community to get started with their project.  Please come into the store and share your before, during, and after pictures of your projects, gardens, remodeling efforts, and farm animals.

Presto Pesto

basilplantTraditional pesto is made with basil, cheese, garlic, and olive oil.  We all know it is delicious on pasta, but there are lots of other savory, delicious, flavor packed ideas for using this classic condiment.

Here are my top 10 ideas for using pesto:

1.  Use pesto like “mayo” Spread it on a BLT , turkey and cheese or other favorite sandwich.

2. Mix It Into Dips Try a little pesto  with sour cream, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or even guacamole.  Yum.

3. Top Your Breakfast  Drizzle pesto over your favorite breakfast eggs to add a touch of herbs and cheese.

Traditional pizza toppings with a pesto sauce base.

Traditional pizza toppings with a pesto sauce base.

4. Replace Pizza Sauce  Using pesto instead of traditional tomato sauce adds an entirely different layer of flavor to homemade pizza.  Just use a little, as pesto is flavor packed.

5. Bake It Into Bread  Instead of garlic bread, spread pesto onto crusty bread and toast, or stir pesto into bread dough for wonderfully fragrant dinner rolls. If you don’t want to turn on the oven, just mix the pesto with some softened butter and slather on some rolls or fresh bread.

Mix pesto with vinaigrette about 50/50 or to taste.

Mix pesto with vinaigrette about 50/50 or to taste.

6. Mix It Into Salad Dressing  Thinned with a little more oil or vinegar, you have a quick vinaigrette for summer salads. Whisk into buttermilk for an Italian version of ranch dressing.

7.  Top Veggies  Instead of butter, use a dab of pesto to garnish your vegetables. Or skip the butter and sour cream, mix pesto on your baked potato.

8. Quick Appetizer – A smear of pesto topped with a slice of mozzarella on a slice of toasted baguette is a very  quick appetizer.

9. Enhance the Meat  Pesto goes amazingly well with grilled steak, pork chops, chicken, and especially fish.  You can also season meatloaf or meatballs with pesto.

Garnish soup with pesto

Garnish soup with pesto

10. Garnish a Soup A traditional French bean and vegetable stew, is meant to be served with a drizzle of pesto over top. Try it with Minestrone other favorites and let us know how you like it.

What is your favorite way to use pesto?





Classic Pesto

Pesto has so many uses!

Pesto has so many uses!

1 Cup packed basil
1/2 Cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup toasted pine nuts (toast in skillet till browned – about 3 minutes and cool) or walnuts
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin light olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil (or use 6 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Light for mild flavor

In a food processor combine the herbs, cheese, nuts, garlic, and salt Process with on/off pulses.Process with the machine running, and SLOWLY add the oil, process to the consistency of soft butter. (This recipe can be done in a blender, but you will need to stop it frequently and push the mixture down to the blades.)


Heidi’s Tomato Salad


Harvesting delicious home grown vegetables makes the foundation of the hot season supper. Whether you like pesto or basil infused tomato salad or both, the combination of the two layered onto toasted French bread makes an extraordinary, punch of flavor for a summertime appetizer.  Now that tomatoes are starting to come in, Heidi’s tomato salad is sure to please everyone in the family or dinner guests as a side dish or appetizer.

You will love this recipe for the ingredients are listed and you just get to eye-ball how much to use based on what you have and what you like.  Use all the listed ingredients or just the ones you like or have.  Suggested proportions are in parentheses.

Heidi’s Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad with Platter of toasted baguette slices

Tomato Salad with Platter of toasted baguette slices

Tomatoes, chopped or sliced (4 cups)
Onion chopped (1/2 cup)
Chopped basil (1/4-1/2 cup)
Garlic (3-4 minced)
Honey, oil, vinegar vinaigrette to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the toasted slices of French Bread, brush olive oil on 1/4 -1/2″ slices of mini-sized baguette or French Bread placed on a large cookie sheet and toast under the broiler for 5-7 minutes.  Keep an eye on the bread or it will blacken quickly.  Spread pesto over the baguette if desired.  Top with tomato salad.  AMAZING!

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden


Herbal Vinegar Basics

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

Tarragon or other herb flavored vinegars are easy and inexpensive to make and provide a simple, appetizing way to add flavor to salad dressings, marinades, and every day meals. Tasty, distinctive, flavored vinegars can also be added to roasted vegetables, drizzled over fish, splashed into a soup, stew or stir-fry for added flavor, or to baste chicken while it bakes.

The process requires few ingredients, basic equipment, and very little time. Homemade vinegars make a special and unique gift for any occasion. If you don’t have tarragon, try basil, Rosemary, thyme, dill, sage or parsley in an herbal vinegar.  Or try several different versions.

Fill jar with fresh herbs

Fill jar with fresh herbs


  • 1-2 cups of French tarragon leaves, fresh and loosely packed – more herbs, more flavor
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, optional

(Additional herb sprig for decoration when bottling)


1. Wash tarragon (or herbs) the night before, if needed, so herbs, freshly harvested in the morning, will maintain maximum flavor. Gather herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried. Bruise tarragon or herbs with the back of a chef knife, with a mortar and pestle or crumple herbs by hand to release maximum flavor.
2. Fill a dry sterilized  jar with tarragon or herbs of choice. (A quick run through the dishwasher
herbal+vinegars3. Pack a one quart jar with the herbs and pour the vinegar over the herbs. Cover the container with a plastic lid and leave for 2—3 weeks. This will draw out the flavor of the tarragon into the vinegar.  (Two-piece lids will work, but be aware vinegar will react with the metal screw bands)
4. Line a fine wire-mesh strainer with a paper coffee filter or cheese cloth. Pour vinegar mixture through the strainer into a large measuring cup, discarding the herbs.
5. Fill dry, attractive sterilized glass bottles with a fresh herb sprig, and add strained vinegar. Tightly seal the bottles with nonmetallic lids or corks; store the herbal vinegar in a cool dark place.

Dress fresh salad greens with herbal vinaigraitte

Dress fresh salad greens with vinaigrette



3 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 1 tbsp. dried, crumbled

In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, salt, and pepper; add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the vinaigrette until it is emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Options for Pairing Vinegars and Herbs

White wine vinegar goes well with many herbs and is perfect for herbs or flower petals that produce color. Dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, mints, and lemon balm are well-suited to white wine vinegar.

Red wine vinegar adds a rich flavor and pairs well with sage, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.

Be creative:  mix and match herbs and garlic according to taste!

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Simple Steps to Home Canned Fruit


Home Canning is NOT old-fashioned but healthier and more delicious

Peaches, nectarines and other fruits are loaded on local fruit trees.  Nothing compares to preserving our delicious, tree-ripened, locally grown North Fork fruit that we preserve ourselves.

It’s time to start gathering the canning supplies as you wait for the peaches, nectarines, plums, and even pears to ripen!  (Yes, this year the supply will be a little more challenging to find but you will find fruit, even if you have to pick it yourself!)

If you get all your supplies gathered together that are listed below (all the supplies needed are available at Paonia Farm and Home), re-familiarize yourself to the 12 Simple Steps to Canning you will soon be making your shelves sparkle with colorful, delicious North Fork Fruit.

 How to Make Homemade Canned Peaches, Plums, Pears, Plums, Nectarines and Cherries Detailed Steps Tutorial

(Click here for downloadable pdf)

The 12 Simple Steps for Canning our delicious North Fork Fruit are summarized below.  Click on the above link for detailed pdf instructions.

Gather Supplies – All the supplies listed below are available at Paonia Farm and Home Supply

  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)canningsupplies
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water
  • Jar funnel
  • Large spoons (stainless steel is nice) and ladles
  • lids and rings
  • Ball jars – pints, quarts, jelly size
  • Sugar (or fruit juice) and pectin
  • Water Bath Canner

12 Simple Steps

1.   Select sufficient Fruit – Peaches, Nectarines, or Plums from local orchards including Stahls, Orchard Valley Farms, First Fruits, JJ’s, and others).

2.  Prepare the Sugar Solution.  Using light or medium syrup helps avoid floating fruit issues.

Sugar Syrup Chart for Light, Medium, and Heavy Syrups

Sugar Syrup Chart for Light, Medium, and Heavy Syrups

3.  Wash the jars and Lids.

4.  Wash the FruitPeaches.

5.  Peeling the Peaches or Nectarines by a quick blanching method.

6.  Cut up the fruit to fit the jars in halves or slices.

7.  Take steps to prevent browning of the fruit.  Use fruit fresh or powdered vitamin C according to directions.

8.  Determine Hot pack versus Cold Pack alternative.

9. Fill the Jars with Fruit.  It takes about 5 regular peaches to fill one quart jar.

10. Process the Jars in a water bath for our altitude.

HomeCannedfruit11. Remove the Jars from the Canner to cool on top of tea towels to absorb water.

12. Cool jars for 24 hours, check lids for any sealing failures.  Store in a dark, cool place

How to Make Homemade Canned Peaches, Plums, Pears, Plums, Nectarines and Cherries Detailed Steps Tutorial

(Click here for downloadable pdf)

Your Done!

Time to Harvest Fresh Herbs

Fragrant, savory, aromatic herbs enhance flavors ocooked food without salt.

Fragrant, savory, aromatic herbs enhance flavors of cooked food without salt

How to Harvest Fresh Herbs and other Helpful Tips
  • Preserve the maximum flavor and color of homegrown herbs by cutting the plant on a sunny day after the dew is dried from the leaves.
  • Wash herbs, if possible, before harvesting to preserve maximum amounts of the precious essential oil component of the leaves.
  • Usually most herbs thrive when they are harvested multiple times or frequently harvested. Cut the herbs back in June or July by about half with scissors or a sharp knife and you may have another complete harvest to reap come Fall. In the Fall, herbs can be cut back to a few inches above the ground.  Here is a delicious, easy, flavorful vinaigrette for seasonal salads:
  • Sweet Basil Vinaigrette
    • 1-2 cups packed, fresh basil leaves to taste.
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • ¾ cup canola oil
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whirl all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, about one minute.  Store in a one pint jar.

  • Hang small bundles of herbs on a line with clothes pins

    Hang small bundles of herbs on a line with clothes pins

    Although fresh is always best, extra leaves and stalks can be dried. Freshly picked herbs should be used right away, or dried upside down in small bundles in a dark, dry place.

  • Harvest herbs at peak flavor because it will surpass the dried herb in quality and flavor.
  • When the herbs are thoroughly dry, 3-5 days up to two weeks, strip the leaves off the stalks and crush them to a fine texture to use in cooking. Tea leaves can be kept whole.
  • A small jar of commercially dried herbs averages $6.00 for small containers. Think of the savings if you harvest more and the gifts you could make!
  • Paonia Farm and Home has a huge assortment of containers for storing dried herbs, making herbal gifts and even herbal vinegars.

    Various sized decorative jars for storing herbs and other seasonings

    Various sized decorative jars for storing herbs and other seasonings

Small tins can be used for dried herbs and gifts.

Small tins can be used for dried herbs and gifts.

Small decorative jars for herbs and making gifts.

Small decorative jars for herbs and making gifts.

    • Use herbs for flavor and reduce the need for salt and sugar! Allow the bounty of tasty herbs to encourage new creative and delicious cooking experiments. No more ho-hum dishes.
    • Herbs provide can be used in tasty teas, or garnishes for other drinks.

• Pick a small nosegay of herbs to scent your kitchen as you cook.
• Tiny bouquets of fresh herbs can be used for a hostess gift.fresh herbs