Halloween Treats by Martha

Halloween is less than a week away! If you're planning a Halloween party, Martha Stewart should be your go-to girl (ghoul?) this year. I really love this year's roster of Halloween products from the Martha Stewart Living line at Home Decorators Collection and Martha Stewart Crafts. I think the quality of the product is high; the design is good and the prices are fair. Speaking of prices, now is a great time to stock up on these Halloween items. Many of them are discounted by up to 40%! See below for my top picks of Martha's Halloween goods this year:
The Martha Stewart Living line at Home Decorators really is wonderful this year. Their Halloween products are sophisticated enough for grown-ups but still lots of fun for kids. Above: Martha Stewart Living Crows, Martha Stewart Living Black Hanging Birdcage; Martha Stewart Living Crow Snow Globe.
Martha Stewart Living Apothecary Jars with creepy labels.
Martha Stewart Living Dried-Mushroom Wreath, Martha Stewart Living Halloween Cloche, Martha Stewart Living Haunted Cauldron, Martha Stewart Living Lacquered Halloween Orbs.
Martha Stewart Living Skeleton Wall Banners: Set of 4.
Martha Stewart Living Halloween Bottles: Set of 2.
For a more crafty take on Halloween, visit Michael's or Jo-Ann's craft stores to see the Martha Stewart Crafts collection of Halloween goodies. They have everything from wreath-making kits to swags to treat bags to pom-poms to table runners, and then some! Above: Martha Stewart Spider-Web Table Decorations; Martha Stewart Tissue-Wreath, Martha Stewart 'Happy Halloween' Garland, Martha Stewart Ghost Clings.
The Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's did not do a Halloween collection this year, but this pumpkin casserole, below, would be ideal to keep Halloween candy by the front door. (It could do double-duty and be used at Thanksgiving as well!)
Of course, no autumn is complete without a special Halloween issue by Martha Stewart Living. This year's issue is a collection of all their best Halloween content: costumes, treats, jack-o-lanterns and more! It's on stands until November 1.


Two Magazines to Watch For

There are two magazines I'd like to tell you about. Both of them are of interest to Martha Stewart's readers, I think, and both of them were launched by self-starting entrepreneurs who wanted to share their vision of good living. The magazines are Beekman 1802 Almanac and BestRecipes.
I've known Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell for about eight years now. I've had the good fortune of getting to know them and have spent time with them at their beautiful farm in Sharon Springs, New York. They are two of the most intrepid, brilliant guys I have ever met - fearless in their commitment to cultivating a better life, for themselves and everyone they inspire. I've written about them before on this blog and if you haven't yet discovered their wonderful line of goats-milk products, housewares and furniture lines, cookbooks and style books, please visit their website to learn all about them.

I was thrilled to hear about the launch of their new magazine this month called Beekman 1802 Almanac. It is the natural next step in the evolution of this expanding brand. Designed to reflect the traditional farmers almanacs, the magazine provides lifestyle guidance with a rural twist and numerous recipes developed by Brent and Josh and some of their fellow cookbook authors. Their premier issue is available across the United States and Canada. It is filled with holiday decorating ideas, seasonal recipes and lifestyle profiles. Click here to find out where to buy it in the U.S. (In Canada, the magazine is available at Chapters/Indigo bookstores, Loblaws grocery stores and Shoppers Drugmart stores.)

This magazine came to my attention when its founder, Drew Maresco, contacted me through the blog, wondering if perhaps I would be interested in receiving a copy to peruse at home. Naturally, I said yes and I immediately related to the simple, delicious recipes and the beautiful presentation: gorgeous photographs, high-quality paper and a pared-down design that makes reading it a pleasure. The magazine is digest-size, reminiscent of the now-defunct Everyday Food magazine. This is no coincidence. Drew specifically modeled the magazine after Everyday Food, one of his favourite magazines. (Any readers who loved and miss Everyday Food need look no further than BestRecipes Magazine to get your fix. It is the perfect replacement.) It has published seven issues so far, with an eighth on the way. It is published seasonally, four times a year.
Vegan Amaretti Cookies from Best Recipes Magazine.

Drew studied graphic design and web design in college and combined his love of cooking and recipe development to create BestRecipesMag.com, the magazine's initial incarnation. When its readers began to urge Drew to publish a print format, he decided to give it a go. Currently, the magazine is available through subscription only via their website. I think Everyday Food fans will love this magazine! The fall issue is all about comfort food!


The November Issue

We are only a few days into October but some subscribers have begun to receive the November issue of Martha Stewart Living in the mail. I have not yet seen the issue, but it seems as though it is going to be a good one! The issue is devoted to Thanksgiving - with all the trimmings a reader would expect to find in the table of contents: turkey two ways, 17 side-dishes, 12 holiday desserts and table-setting ideas. Watch for the issue on newsstands beginning October 17th.


Geyser Bread in Iceland

Imagine mixing the ingredients for a loaf of bread in a big pot and then planting it in the dirt to bake. In several parts of Iceland, this is exactly what the locals do! The natural geothermal energy of Iceland's landscape, which is caused by its volcanic conditions, is used to heat the homes and buildings there. In many of the country's 'hot spots' where the earth can be heated to more than 100 degrees, the conditions are perfect (coincidentally) for baking rye bread. On a visit to the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa near Thingvillir, Iceland, we were treated to several slices of this deliciously sweet bread. Below is the recipe along with several photographs of the loaf we enjoyed at the spa.
Not far from the spa was a black beach with steaming water lapping up on its shores. This is where the 'geysir bread' is buried to be naturally baked by the earth's geothermal energy. This Fontana staff member dug up the aluminum pot and brought the bread to the front entrance for it to cool before serving.
Before burying the pot in the hot sand of the beach, a layer of plastic had been placed on top of the bread to ensure none of the hot-spring water splashed on top of the bread.
After the plastic is removed, the edge of the bread is loosened from the side of the pot with a sturdy knife.
 The pot is flipped over to remove the bread.
 Ta-da! The aroma was incredible!
The loaf is sliced in half.
The uncooked portion is cut away and discarded.
The loaf is cut into sections and then into small slices for serving with butter and jam.
Here is the recipe from the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa:

4 cups rye
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 liter of whole milk

Put the mixture in a bowl and stir ingredients together.
Grease a large pot with butter
Put the dough in the pot and wrap it thoroughly so the hotspring water cannot get in
Dig a hole in the boiling sand and leave the pot there for 24 hours.
Remove it and let it cool slightly before serving

You can read more about Iceland's geothermal technology, which is entirely sustainable and renewable, by clicking here.

Hiking in the Faroe Islands

While I returned from my trip to Scandinavia a couple weeks ago, memories of our excursions and adventures in Denmark, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland still bring me joy. I think travel serves two main purposes. The first is the exposure to another culture, another landscape and new experiences in those elements. This is a true form of education that broadens our minds by exposing us to history, geography and cultural practices (food, traditions, holidays) that are different from our own. The second is the creation of memories that will last a lifetime and comfort you in moments of reflection. I learned a great deal on my travels and made incredible memories as well.
One of the fondest moments was climbing Mount Klakkur in the Faroe Islands with my mother, who is 64. We set out early with our guide and were determined to make it to the top - more than half a kilometer above sea level over very rugged terrain. Along with the gorgeous scenery and the freshness of the salty air, what stands out in my mind is the love and admiration I felt for my mother for making the effort to climb to the top with me. Our shared determination and the moments we shared together on that mountain peak are irreplaceable. In writing this account for the Martha Moments blog I am reminded of Martha's excellent book Living the Good Long Life. In it, she suggests always having the courage to try something new and to move outside of your comfort zone as we age. My mother, despite having arthritis in her ankles, was determined to make it to the mountain's summit and to do something she had never done before. I think that's what qualifies this as a Martha Moment. Please enjoy my photographs!
The Faroe Islands is a self-governing archipelago, part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It comprises 18 rocky, volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges. The islands’ mountains, valleys and grassy heathland, and steep coastal cliffs that harbor thousands of seabirds, are lures for nature lovers. Pictured above is the town of Klaksvik, where we stayed. It is the second largest town in the Faroe Islands.
As we started our climb, the clouds rolled in. The town viewed from high on the hillside was very beautiful. 

 On our way up, we paused for a selfie!
We passed several small sheep farms on the narrow road to the peak of Mount Klakkur. Many of the small huts and barns have grass-covered roofs. This acts as a natural form of insulation. 
The higher we climbed, the more we realized how important it was to stop now and then for some water and a brief rest. The hillside was very steep. Mom loved looking down at the town through the clouds.
After a rest, mom was soon on her way again.
This is mom with our guide, Peter. We were almost there!
Mom and Peter right at the summit - above the clouds! 
The view was extraordinary. You can see how small the houses look in the distance. We were literally in the clouds.
A fishing boat in the distance.
It was certainly a day to remember!


Season 5 of Martha Bakes Premiers October 3

The fifth season of Martha Stewart's Emmy nominated teaching show Martha Bakes, will premiere on PBS stations nationwide beginning October 3, 2015: check local listings.

The new season of Martha Bakes follows four successful seasons as the number one baking show on public television. This past spring, Martha Bakes was nominated for 2 Emmy Awards for best culinary host and culinary show.  Martha Bakes is the most visited show on PBS Food, PBS's digital cooking portal, and the series has been viewed in 95% of U.S. television households, according to TRAC Media Services.
In each of the thirteen 30-minute episodes of Martha Bakes—produced by MSLO—Emmy Award-winning TV host Martha Stewart shares her best baking tips and techniques, teaching viewers to create delectable baked goods from scratch in their own kitchens.

For the first time in the series, Martha will have featured guests on the show to share their culinary expertise with viewers. This season includes renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres, Michele Goldsmith of Nobu Restaurant, NYC and Nick Malgieri, author of 12 cookbooks and the founder of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Click here to watch a short preview and visit the official Martha Bakes page.

Anthony's Martha Moment in Newport

Last Sunday, Martha and chef Jacques Pepin were in Newport, Rhode Island, to promote their respective cookbooks: Appetizers and Heart & Soul in the Kitchen. The two culinary giants, who are also friends, shared the stage for a Q&A at Marble House - the Gilded Age mansion formerly owned by Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt, and now run by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Guests were treated to an informative and interesting discussion about their careers, food and entertaining. This was followed by a book-signing hosted by Martha. Martha Moments reader Anthony Picozzi, who has been featured on the blog before, attended the event and took several photos to share with fellow readers.
Martha and Jacques were seated in front of the very elaborate marble fireplace with the evening's host, Sal Rizzo. Anthony got to chat with Martha after the discussion and later had his copy of Appetizers signed by Martha. Anthony was introduced to Martha by a mutual friend of theirs who had shown Martha several photos of Anthony the night before. Martha jokingly scolded Anthony for not asking her a question during the audience Q&A!

During her talk, Martha mentioned that her first taste of real success came when Entertaining was published in 1982. “I didn’t know I was a writer until I sat down and wrote that book.” She said she was persuasive and had a publisher who listened. The publisher wanted a picture book with recipes, but Martha wanted a big, colorful storybook. “They wanted it in black and white, can you imagine?” The publisher told Martha if the book sells 25,000 copies it will be a major best seller for a first book. The book has now gone on to sell over a million copies. Martha said, “I found out that in America, especially, if you write a book that catches the eye and heart of the readers, then you become an expert. That book made people start to understand that I was the real thing. That I could write about food, develop recipes and talk about entertaining with a voice.” 
Martha mentioned that Appetizers is her 85th book. Everyone raised a glass to toast that success.
Martha was very excited to hear that Anthony had photographed many of the mansions of Newport. You can see some of his photos in this post.
Martha taking in the beauty of the mansion's great hall.
 Martha's book Appetizers is available now. Jacque's book will be released next week and is available for pre-order.