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Monday, June 17, 2024

Library ZOOM Lecture had Tips from the ‘Thirsty Radish’ to Create a Very Berry Holiday

The Warren County Library recently had a ZOOM lecture entitled “Cooking with Berries through the Holiday Season” with Vanessa Young of the Thirsty Radish.

Young is a cooking instructor, writer and educator known for her artful approach to food and seasonal meals. She shares her passion for cooking with online classes for children and adults.

Young’s class was filmed in her kitchen where she showed us how to add berries for an extra special holiday dinner. She always uses organic foods in her recipes. She suggested using fresh apple, pear and cranberry compote as a condiment on a cheese plater next to the crackers.

Young made a non-alcohol cocktail with fresh pears called Maple Pear Sparkle, recipe included.

Young shared some baking tips:

  • Never over mix shortbread dough
  • If a cookie dough gets to sticky, pop it into the freezer to stiffen up
  • Add something savory to your holiday cookie tray

She said preparing for guests can be stressful so make some on trays, days before. She made a simple feta cheese side. Chop feta into small bite size chunks, add to a jar with fresh rosemary and hot pepper flakes and cover with olive oil. Let it marinate two or three days in room temperature and then refrigerate. Serve at room temperature because the olive oil needs to loosen up.

Young made a soft cheese spread with fresh ground nuts. Place the mixture of nuts on plastic wrap then roll the soft cheese into a loaf shape and wrap it in the same plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least overnight.

Young inspires everyone to make the holiday treats as healthy as possible by substituting the decorative sprinkles for some organic Turbonado raw cane sugar. This sugar has a gold color and adds sparkle to any holiday cookie.

She decorated cookies with freeze dried berries chopped up and some cookies had freeze dried berry sprinkles. The organic freeze dried products can add that festive look while being healthy. Freeze dried berries retain97% of the nutritional value of the food it can be purchased at

Young mottled some pink peppercorns, a dried berry from the Baies Rose found in Brazil. The berries have a sweet fruity peppery flavor and are quite popular in French cuisine. Pink peppercorns can be used in a in a vinaigrette, in cocktails or used as a coating for a filet mignon or pork tenderloin.

Young graciously shared her recipes with us. Ffor more creative culinary dishes check out her website at She can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.

Cranberry Curd Tarts:

Chocolate Cranberry Cookie Bars:

Yelens Choban
MB Journe, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

MB has been a resident of Frelinghuysen for the past 22 years. She lives in an old farmhouse on the side of the road. She enjoys the simple life, puttering in her flower garden, practicing Qi Gong under her redbud tree, or creating art on the deck.
MB's experience as a journalist began when her son was quite young, she began writing for The Paulinskill Valley Chronicle, often bringing him to work with her. Her responsibilities were writing articles with photos, selling ads, and billing. This suited her, as a single mother not wanting to be separated from her small child.

She considers herself a lover of nature, often seen photographing its beauty. She has worked as a seasonal employee of YMCA Camp Mason for the past 17 years. She is a teacher and mentor of children, always emphasizing the YMCA’s core values - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. She tries to listen carefully to each individual she interviews, getting their viewpoint. That is why she likes to write about the interesting people and places that make Warren County such a nice place to live.