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Building Our Communities Through Food

February 23rd, 2014

We can feed our hunger for connection by eating seasonally and also by buying directly from small farmers at the farmer’s market. Forming relationships with the people who grow our food, and taking up opportunities to visit their farms, is a healing practice. It is important for the farmers as well. The majority of small farmers are not in it for the money – farming is no longer lucrative. They do it because they have a love of independence, because they love working with the land, and often because they believe in building a food system that is based on relationship. They get immense satisfaction when their customers take an interest in their farming practices and in how and why they grow their produce.

Jessica Prentice – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection
farmers market
As I was at the farmers market on Friday morning I was thinking about why buying local is so important to me. It’s about a lot of different things, including health, but most importantly, it’s about directly supporting small farmers and producers in my community.
farmers market 1
farmers market 2
farmers market 3
Waterville market 5
The truth is that many things I buy at the market could be grown in my garden, now that I have more than enough space, but I want to invest in the local food web not just for myself, but for others who can’t grow their own. I want to get to know the person nurturing the chickens that produce the meat I purchase for our cats and dogs. I want to chat with the lady who makes the cheese.  It’s very important to me to encourage those that have taken on the burden of growing good healthy food for those in their community even before they had customers to purchase them.
Belfast Farmers Market 5
Waterville market 4
Belfast Farmers Market 3
Personally, I believe we’re heading down a dangerous path with our food in this country. Far too many people are expecting the government to draft legislation for the changes they want to see happen with the food system. What it really takes to spur change is for people to put their money where their convictions. We’ve chosen to invest in our community and it’s good to know that there are others out there like us. I know that should anything ever happen the folks at the local farm will continue providing milk for those of us who purchase from them. We won’t have to worry about not having cash to pay for it. They in turn know that if they ever need our help, we’re willing to step up as well. This is what community is all about and I’m certainly happy that we embarked on this road a few years ago, it certainly has been rewarding!

Are there any changes you’ve made in your life over the past couple years that you’re starting to see the rewards from?

Admitting Defeat

September 14th, 2013

This is one of only a few peppers that I have on my plants in the garden.  I knew my pepper harvest would be low due to the location of the pepper plants.  Then the ducks decided that pepper plants were super tasty and my hopes of harvesting even a half bushel of peppers from my garden were dashed.  I have been harvesting a few green peppers and other hot peppers for the past month, but I do not have enough to make roasted red peppers for the pantry.  I don’t do a lot of canning of garden produce, but I do love to have a few jars of roasted red peppers in the cupboard.  They’re so much cheaper than buying them at the store, and you can customize them with white wine vinegar, homegrown garlic, and a really good olive oil.  I even use the brine to make salad dressing. (“>here’s my post about making them, including the recipe)
peppers 1
Yesterday, I purchased a load of peppers at the Belfast Farmers Market to preserve.  Next week I hope to buy more, along with some jalapeños (which I preserve in the same manner and dehydrate as well).
peppers 2
I also purchased a box of tomatoes since mine are taking they’re time ripening up. Roasted tomato passatta is something I don’t want my pantry to be without as well. I must admit, I’m thankful to live in an area where there are loads of farmers growing all kinds of wonderful organic produce. It comes in handy when my crop doesn’t do well.

Have you had any crops that have done less than stellar this season?

Quote of the Day: Robyn Griggs Lawrence

December 9th, 2012

Preparing food is an ideal way to hone your creative flair and bring sense of beauty into your home. You have to do it every day, anyway – and if you stop to recognize the simple majesty of the objects you bring home in grocery bags, making dinner will be a lot more fun.

Next time you unload the groceries, particularly the produce, do so mindfully. Notice the fine white hairs protecting the carrot’s flesh, the squeaky wax binding the cheese wedge, the chunky shapes or fine straight bands of different pastas. How can you make the most of crisp spring greens, plump August tomatoes, golden fall pumpkins? You can toss them, mash them, and spice them up for consumption, of course, and you can also use them to add seasonal grace to the dining room table.

Robyn Griggs Lawrence (The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty)

There’s nothing I love more than heading to the farmers market each week to see what each vendor will have. Fresh sheep’s milk yogurt, honey, cheese, carrots, kale, cabbage, apples and a few other goodies made it into my bags on Friday. To me, it’s all about relishing the fact that time moves forward, seasons change, the sun rises and sets, and food changes as this happens.

Meals shouldn’t be just about eating, they should be about appreciating the distinct flavors of the seasons. The more food I grow in my garden and the more wild foods I learn to gather, the more I appreciate each thing at the height of it’s flavor. The longer I eat seasonally the less I want to eat things that aren’t fresh and at the peak of ripeness. Asparagus picked a few minutes before eating is so much better than some I’ve pulled from the freezer in late November. Not only is the flavor not as good, but it seems wrong to eat it when the skies are gray and the earth is settling in for it’s long winter’s nap. This time of year apples fit the bill better than asparagus.

This doesn’t mean we have to learn to cook new things each season, often we can learn to make one dish and adapt it for different flavors. Crepes are one of those versatile dishes that everyone should learn to make. They’re quick and easy to make and you can stuff them with anything sweet or savory. In June you’ll find them on our plate stuffed with strawberries, in late winter, with kale, eggs, bacon and cheese. You can even use different types of grains to make them even more flavorful!


Yesterday morning we enjoyed homemade crepes of freshly ground wheat flour, eggs from our chickens, milk from a local farm and local butter. Instead of adding water to the recipe I used apple cider since it was in season and my crepes were going to be stuffed with cooked apples. For the filling, I combined apples, more cider, butter, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Each crepe was smeared with some sheep’s milk yogurt then stuffed with the apple filling, and chopped crispy walnuts. A little drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of cinnamon topped it off perfectly. The perfect brunch on a saturday in December!

What would you choose as your favorite crepe filling combo?

Small Business Saturday

November 26th, 2011

Machine-made things are children of the brain; they are not very human. The more they spread, the less the human being is needed. What seems to be a great advance is also a great step backward; the desire for the natural as opposed to the artificial surely has some basic, unchanging significance.

Robyn Griggs Lawrence (The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty)

As a small business owner I’d like to encourage all of you to support your small local businesses not just today, which happens to be Small Business Saturday, but every day. Think about shopping local artisans for you holiday gifting this year. I love the uniqueness of the kinds of gifts I can find at Local Roots Market in Wooster, OH. Here’s a sampling of what I saw last time I went to the market.






Considering spending some of your gift money this season on items made by human hands or to use your hands to make some of your gifts. If you can’t find small local artisans in your are, search on-line or try Etsy.com. You’ll not only be giving a unique one of a kind gift, you’ll be supporting the small arts community not just in your area, but around the country as well.

Do you have a great local place for unique handmade gift items? Any great websites for beautiful handmade items?

Loving the Local Life

November 22nd, 2010

It’s been a few years now since Mr Chiots and I started to focus on eating as locally as possible. In our quest we’ve discovered so many wonderful farmer’s markets, farms, stores and we’ve made so many new friends along the way. I especially love the Local Roots Market in Wooster, OH. They opened last winter and have been a wonderful resource for us, especially during those long winter months when it can be so difficult to find fresh local vegetables. I grow as much of our food as possible, but my small gardens limit me and sometimes there’s a lull in the harvests.

Last week I purchased these beautiful little heads of organic Banzhaf Red Lettuce “Roxy”. I got 10 small heads of lettuce for $3.50, which we ate up in 2 meals (the photos are of a few heads). We topped them with some homemade passion fruit vinaigrette, homemade cheese and some of those dried cherries I made.

I must buy some seeds for these as they’re quite beautiful and quite tasty, the texture is quite good. Since a local farmer is growing them, I know they’ll do well in my area. I love that they labeled the variety so I can grow them myself if I want to. I found some seeds for this lettuce over at High Mowing Seeds.

What local seasonal foods have you been enjoying recently? Have you ever started growing something you bought from a local farmer?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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