Spring Cleaning-Fermented Foods

This has been the year that illness has turned our household upside down!  Now that we have had the opportunity to open the windows and hopefully flush out those bugs that have been hanging around for far too long, my culinary mindset has shifted to all things fermented to help heal our bellies from  holiday indulgences, and illness.  I taught a basic fermentation class several weeks ago where each participant took home a starter vegetable ferment.  We have kept the ferment alive, and it has served us well, pickling little bits of veggies along the way to try new tastes.  They work well on sandwiches to add a little zest, I have chopped them up into Ben’s tuna salad he takes for lunch, and their complex sour flavors work wonders to balance out braised fatty cuts of meat that we all love to eat in the colder months.

I purchased a yogurt maker several years ago, as yogurt and granola is a staple breakfast for us.  I thought I would wise up and stop spending so much on little containers of the stuff riddled with sugar.  As most things go, this mama got lazy and went back to the way of buying quarts and singles… I recently found a glass jar that fits my maker, instead of the plastic one it comes with (it is BPA free) And fired it up again…The kiddos have enjoyed both making and eating it as it works as both a science experiment and good food.  I will sometimes top their familiar bowl with a little jam or applesauce to sweeten it up, and I like the more intense tang that  homemade yogurt provides.

New to our repertoire, we just started Nancy Silverton’s iconic sourdough starter this week.  After watching her story on Chef’s Table it was hard not to. Although,  after reading her very involved directions, my anxiety ramped up a bit and I thought ‘I have two children already, how in the world can I sustain another life?!?!’, but it is now part of our kitchen counter for all to see and watch over hopefully.

Below, find a link for an intriguing counter-top fermenting crock that I have not tried, but I am hoping for come Birthday time (hint, hint Jason),  and recipes for the vegetable ferment, as well as Nancy Silverton’s Starter.

Now if they only could make probiotic Girl Scout Cookies…

Happy Cooking!






Sour Pickles



  • 2 pounds vegetables
  • 2 cloves spring garlic, sliced thin (optional)
  • 1 dill flower, or 5 sprigs fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dill seed (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed(optional)
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded and slivered (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons salt



  1. Pack vegetables into one or two clean quart jars. Tuck in garlic, dill, coriander and jalapeño, if using.
  2. Add salt to two cups boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Add two cups of ice (made with filtered water if yours is chlorinated). Stir well until the ice has melted and the brine is cool. Pour brine into jars, covering vegetables.
  3. Loosely cap jars and place in a bowl or pan because the jars may leak during fermentation.
  4. Leave pickles on the counter to ferment. The brine will bubble lazily and become cloudy. Taste after 3 days, leaving on the counter another day or two if you want your pickles more sour, or refrigerating if they’re ready. They keep a month in the refrigerator.

Pop-up Bakery & Farmstand

Sunday, May 29, 2016
8:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

We’re pretty excited about the return of ice pops!

Pop-up bakery and farmstand, tasting event, with Willow City Farm! Stop by Sunday morning:

Copper Pot Cooking Studio
916 W Laurel Street
Springfield, Illinois

Photo: pop up bakery, farmstand

Crêpe Crusaders — May 28, 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016
Come hungry to see us at the Old Capitol Farmers Market!

Stop by our booth to say hello and pick up a sweet or savory crepe using awesome local fruit and veggies! For those who were at the market last week: we are between Custom Cup Coffee and Suttil’s.

Crepes offered this day:

Five Bucks per Crêpe! See you at the Old Capitol Farmers Market!

  • Red wine and coriander braised pork, with pickled beet salad and beet greens pesto
  • Strawberry rhubarb with lavender pastry creme

Crêpe Crusaders — May 21, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Come hungry to see us at the Old Capitol Farmers Market!

Stop by our booth to say hello and pick up a sweet or savory crepe using awesome local fruit and veggies! For those who were at the market last week: we are moving to between Custom Cup Coffee and Suttil’s.

Crepes offered this day:

Five Bucks per Crêpe! See you at the Old Capitol Farmers Market!

  • Roasted Pork with Sweet Pickled Radish and Green Garlic Aioli
  • Rose Water Macerated Strawberries with Dark Chocolate Ganache
photo: Chef Denise Perry cooking crepes outdoors
It was a cool, Spring day at this recent Old Capitol Farmers Market.

Crêpe Crusaders — May 14, 2016

This photo shows what our pastry cream looked like when we made it using fresh, local eggs! Just look at that color!

Saturday: May 14, 2016: come to Old Capitol Farmers Market for a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crêpe!

We attended a fabulous dinner in support of the Old Capitol Farmers Market. It’s so good to see it grow every year — and this season we will be down there, as well! Come say hello and pick up a sweet or savory crepe using awesome local fruit and veggies!!

Crepes offered Saturday, May 14, 2016:


  • Sautéed Spinach and Sausage with Mornay Sauce
  • Strawberry Rhubarb with Vanilla Custard

Pierogies and Perspective

photos: kids in the kitchen... a little perspective

photo: kids cooking in the kitchenI thought it a good idea to have my six year-old son Ben and a friend join him at the shop to make some potato and onion pierogies to celebrate a day off for Casmir Pulaski Day.  We headed to the shop to start making the filling and everything started off fine…

Anyone who knows Ben will find the story I am about to tell completely unlike him, but I will let you know, it is all true.  I have a witness.

We were in the midst of making the dough and I was having the kids measure and pour as I usually do.  As the kids engaged  we, the parents, were smiling at how sweet our cherubs were, and there was a nice breeze coming from the open storefront door.  Then the flour happened.  I took the kids over to the pasta machine to roll out the long sheets of dough.  I brought a bag of flour with me to add a bit here and there when the dough got too wet to roll out properly.  At that point, this being old hat for Ben, he began to toss flour into the air to “make it snow.”  Trying to redirect his antics to the task at hand without resorting to the scolding voice I have been using so often these days, I reminded him that there was ALOT of dough that needed to be rolled out. Not this time… Dough was not rolled but tossed in the air, pasta attachments pulled off and swung around like a pugilist device.  It was time to take him into the adjoining room to remind him that, while I would like him to have fun, this was still Mama’s place of work and with big messes came lots of clean up.  I believe my final words of advice were “slow it down.”

Pasta finally got finished thanks to the help of another food-loving mama and a great big brother, and the next step began.  I had the kids crack eggs and mix.  More giggling ensued as they stirred and made funny comparisons to the tasks they were completing.  I showed them how to paint the egg mixture onto the dough sheet and then put a scoop of the filling in the center of the sheet of pasta.  I put the second dough sheet on top, and tamped it down to seal.  It didn’t work as well as I had hoped, so I tried a different approach and used a ring cutter and a dumpling press.  This one worked much better, and I showed the kids the technique. I let them take over and they opted for wholly different approach.  Ben began smashing the dough with the ring mold cutter with no regard for spacing or technique, and his friend began stirring the eggs with her hand and glopping it on the dough calling it “egg boogers.”  I was frustrated and defeated at this point.

In conversation while they were making pierogies, Ben looked down at his ring mold dough design and said, “Hey, we are learning about these in school, I just made a Venn diagram!”  My friend and I let out a laugh, as that would have been the last thing we were expecting to come out of the mouths of babes. I think in that moment, the air lightened a bit and later that evening, after the flour and egg residue was cleaned up, I had an epiphany…

As a teacher and a parent, I have expectations.  When I plan a class or an activity, I think often times, that the outcome will be tangible. During Pierogi Day, my belief was that the teaching points would come from the measuring, etc, and it had to be slow and calculated, paying close attention to technique.  While I would have appreciated this situation – I realized that Ben and his friend had a fun day, and they were able to identify something that was being taught in school into their goofy antics-a different something than what I was trying to convey, and that is the beauty of learning.  Ben and his friend had fun, and I am hoping through that fun, they will want to come back to the shop and enjoy another lesson, perhaps a tad bit less messy, but I’ll allow a little mess if they are smiling like they were. By the way, pierogies were made, enough for two families to take some home, and they were delicious! The recipe follows this post.  Thanks to Ben and his friend for making me a better teacher and parent on Pierogi Day at Copper Pot Cooking Studio.

Potato and Caramelized Onion Pierogies

1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 eggs
1/4 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for the board and to adjust dough as needed

1 or 2 eggs to make an egg wash to seal the pierogi

Bring a pot of water to boil for the potatoes. Saute the onion in a small pan in 2 tablespoons of butter until caramelized, about 15 minutes, and set aside. Boil the potatoes until tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, begin the dough. Whisk together the eggs and  1/4 cup water and pour into a bowl. Mound the flour in the center of a clean room-temperature work surface like a large wooden cutting board. Create a crater inthe center of the mound. Pour enough of the egg mixture into the center to fill the crater. With a fork, gently begin to scramble the mixture within the confines of the crater, whilst integrating the flour from the sides of the crater as you carefully beat the egg mixture.

Once this first amount of the egg mixture is mostly mixed in, build up the sides of the mound again with flour, maintaining the crater shape. Repeat the process with a second pour of egg mixture into the crater, and again until you have combined all the egg mixture. Start kneading the dough with your palms adding more water or flour if needed to make a smooth ball.

Return to the potatoes, drain, and mash them with the sauteed onion,  cream, and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Work with 1/3 of the pasta dough at a time – keeping the rest wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Use a pasta machine to gradually roll each section of the pasta down, successively reducing the setting on the machine until it is at a thickness of 1/16th of an inch.

Brush pasta sheet with egg wash. Cut 3-inch circles of pasta, spoon some of the mashed potatoes into the center and fold the filled circles into half moons, sealing the edges with your fingers or carefully with the times of a fork.

Bring a large shallow saute pan of water to a boil, and gently boil the pierogi in batches for 2 or 3 minutes


Starting a business is… WOW!! It is funny, because one of my first checkmarks off the never-ending list of small business ownership was setting up a sole proprietership. As many who have done this before me know, it is hardly a project of one. Therefore, my first post is a list of gratitude to those who have helped me in this journey:

My husband, sisters, and parents for listening to all of my crazy ideas, for reeling me in when they got a little too out there, and giving me the reassurance that I could do this.

Jay Kitterman, who took a glance at my resume, all those years ago, and made me realize my passion for teaching.

Kemia Sarraf and the staff at genHkids, who have shown me what true perseverance looks like through our work.

Kevin Lust, who met with me at the Small Business Association and showed me the ropes of small business start-up.

Julie Roland and B Creative, who designed my logo and gave Copper Pot Cooking Studio a brand.

Nancy Richards and staff at First Bankers Trust for providing amazing customer service.

Wanless Trust, who provided the perfect space for Copper Pot Cooking Studio.

SCDPH for all of the insight they have given me in setting up a commercial kitchen.

Susan and Doug Danenberger for letting me cook in their amazing kitchen and for giving me a TON of small business advice and recommendations.

Chris and Bruce Sommer and the Market on Koke Mill for our lovely sinks and learning the fine art of small business start-up.

Erik Karlicher for his amazing plumbing work.

Chris Rudin and Rudin Printing for friendship, generosity and business cards!

Doug and Victoria Ringer for the painting.

Marlin Ouverson for designing the website and putting up with my non-functional IT brain.

Sabrina Martindale and Sugar Jar Bakery for some great equipment.

Tim Jackson, my brother-in-law, who does a fine job making hardwood furniture.

Dave and Sean Peecher, super electricians that handle all of those wires that truly terrify me.

Bob Ferry, for always being just a phone call away, and for finding my Dad’s lost tape rule.

My kids, Ben and Norah, for putting up with my stressed-out brain, not always being there to put them to bed or make them dinner, but letting their mom make her dream a reality and reminding her that she was going to be great at it.

My Mom, for teaching me the fine art of keeping it together (most of the time) when managing a family and a career, and for watching the littles when their mom was off at work.

My Dad. He was with me when I began this process in December 2014, and I know he will be there in spirit when we open in March. Miss you, and love you much.

Jason, Kurtis, and Ethan Perry, who did a ton of moving, sanding, and general labor to get the job done a little bit faster.

To the countless friends and family who have spread the word, shared a post on Facebook, and supported me through this journey.  Bless you all!