March 15, 2007


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From homemade to home business
Dipping oils, salsa move fast at Crooked Birch
By Susan Reilly

Gov. John Lynch is a fan of the black bean and corn salsa from Crooked Birch. Judging by the rapid growth of this Lee-based company, it seems he is not alone.

In late 2005 stay-at-home mom Marisa Daly started jarring salsas and dipping oils. She and her family had just moved to Lee. They did not know a soul, so her husband suggested that she sell her products at the Lee County Fair. He saw it as a way for her to get to know people in town.

In a few hours, the several cases of salsa and oils that she brought were sold out and she started taking orders. Today she has a product line with more than a dozen established offerings ranging from oils to salsa, jam and grill sauces, plus a dozen more being released this year and a cookbook in the works.

Daly has no formal culinary training, but grew up in a household where everything was made from scratch using local products.

Her mother is from Italy and she grew up eating traditional Italian food, like homemade gnocchi and marinara. Every week, her mother would drive to Boston’s Haymarket and shop and Daly says that she never had convenience foods like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until after high school.

Despite her mother’s skill, Daly is not a fan of Italian fare, favoring Mexican instead.

“I started making the salsa because we ate them. I wasn’t trained as a chef, but I have three daughters and a husband who all like to eat,” she said.

She started her business without a plan and now is going through growing pains. She leases time in a local commercial kitchen and is on the hunt for a commercial kitchen to rent so that she can grow her business. If she can’t find a space, she might build one adjacent to her home.

In the meantime, she is tending to her wholesale customers and spending Thursdays at the Amherst Indoor Farmers’ Market turning people on to her products.

“The growing pains are, well, painful,” she said. The popularity of her product has forced her to turn away commercial accounts because she just can’t do it all.

“I’m the cook, I jar everything, make all of the labels and deliver. Plus I have a family that I am raising, so I have a lot on my plate,” she said.

All of Crooked Birch’s oils, jams and salsas are made by Daly without preservatives from only fresh ingredients.

The current lineup includes salsas in pineapple and chipotle and a tomato and jalapeño. Dipping oils come in sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic, red pepper and garlic and balsamic and red pepper.

For the grill and all-purpose sauces, try the sweet chili and garlic, citrus garlic and honey and orange honey chipotle. And finally, jams are whipped up in apple pepper and strawberry rhubarb amongst others.

Daly is putting together a cookbook with recipes using Crooked Birch products. She expects to have it out in six months.

Crooked Birch
Lee, NH, 659-0207
Where to find Cooked Birch products:
• Milford Fish Market (251 Elm St., Milford, 673-4200) On the menu, and for sale.
• Amherst Indoor Farmers’ Market (Rte 101A Saltzburg Sq., Amherst) Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
• Springledge Farm (230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 434-7619)
• Wisteria Flower Shop (16 East Broadway, Derry, 434-4600).

3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round

3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch