Dark Days: Green Salad with Jam & Buttermilk Dressing

And to ring in the New Year – salad! OK, I know it’s not very exciting. But in the midst of a busy holiday season filled with cookies and pie, pizza and peppermint bark, chocolate cake balls and artichoke dip, cranberry nut bread and eggnog, mac & cheese and yet more pie, well, the thought of a crisp green salad gets my mouth watering. So when I saw some heads of cold-frame lettuce at the last farmer’s market before the holidays, I snapped one up and tucked it in the back of the fridge, waiting for the inevitable day when my body would be screaming for a fresh green vegetable – like last night.

After a long day at the computer tabulating data, Tai was sweet enough to compose our dinner salad (while I took a long, hot shower to work out the computer-desk kinks) using Madura farms lettuce, carrots, scallions and shallot and some Migliorelli Farm celery (another great score of the holiday market, as local celery is never easy to find). We added a touch of grated aged goat cheese and I whipped up a dressing of wild wineberry preserves, red wine & buttermilk. My standard trick for a thick & delicious local salad dressing is to combine a soft goat cheese with frozen berries or no-sugar jam in the blender. A little homemade vinegar for some acid, salt & pepper, and you never miss the olive oil. Last night, however, I did not have any chevre on hand, but I did have the tail end of a jar of wineberry preserves and some local buttermilk. I added some local red wine, buttermilk, some sliced fresh cranberries and salt & pepper to the jar and shook well. It came out a bit too thin and needed something, so eventually I added a bit of (non-local) olive oil. (In a test version, I tried some of the roasted pumpkin seed oil with the wineberry preserves; not a good plan. Blech.) So, we went with a mostly-local green salad: olive oil, black pepper and some raw sugar in the preserves were all sourced from “away” but I think they were indispensable to the meal. Besides – using the last of the wineberry preserves not only cleaned a jar out of the fridge (victory!) but saved me from rummaging around for berries in the chest freezer in the single-digit-temp garage. I’ll take it.



  • lettuce, carrots, scallion, shallot: Madura Farms, Goshen, NY
  • celery: Migliorelli Farm
  • aged goat cheese: bought at the South Salem market from a Hudson Valley farm, the name of which escapes me


  • wild wineberry preserves (wineberries from Pound Ridge, NY, raw sugar, South Salem, NY apple pectin, sea salt)
  • red wine: Ripton Red, Jones Family Farms (with 80% California grapes), Shelton, CT
  • buttermilk: Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery, Norwich, NY
  • apple cider vinegar: homemade from local cider
  • organic cranberries: Cranberry Hill Farm, Plymouth, MA
  • sea salt: Rhode Island salt from Kenyon’s Gristmill
  • olive oil, black pepper: away


    • Thanks! That is actually our countertop; our little cottage is very rustic and filled with handmade wooden accents. I think they were made by the builder who turned a 1700’s horse barn into a rental cottage, and subsequently, our home!

  1. Did you ever try making apple cider vinegar out of apple scraps? I have a bag of them in my freezer and was trying to decide whether to make vinegar or pectin stock.

    • Hi Lindsay,

      I have tried once or twice to make vinegar from my apple leavings, but it was unsuccessful (for me). I usually end up with a big bowl of mold. I think my house may just have a high amount of natural molds in the air, as I can’t manage to ferment chile peppers either. I usually make pectin stock with my apple scraps.

      I haven’t had a batch of apple cider vinegar going for a while now; I have one bottle left from before our wedding last year, but I never got around to starting more last year. I do, honestly, have a difficult time fermenting it to the point where it is actually 5% acidity (mine seems to stop around 3 to 3.5% for some reason). Since I use so much of it for canning, the less-than-5%-acidity homemade vinegar lasts a long time.

      If you Google it, you’ll find a lot of tips on making vinegar from fruit scraps; basically, you need fruit juice, which needs to be fermented to alcohol, then a second fermentation converts to vinegar. I think this is why I have better luck with wine vinegar; since it is already alcohol, it is only one fermentation step away from vinegar.

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