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Friday Favorite: Farmers Markets

April 19th, 2013

Yesterday was the first farmers market of the season (well, if you don’t count the ones that are open all year long). I drove up to Waterville, to their farmers market.
Waterville market 1
Waterville market 2
It was small, but had it all. Spinach, arugula, lots of cheese, oxtail, liver and a few other goodies made it into my basket. There was even a local ice cream truck. Mr Chiots wasn’t along, and it was rather chilly, so I skipped the cone.
Waterville market 3
Waterville market 4
Even though I grow a lot of my own produce, I still love to hit the local farmers markets. You can find varieties that do well in your area and often find new and interesting vegetables to try as well. I’m super excited that it’s finally farmers market season again.
Waterville market 5
Waterville market 6
I’m pretty excited that I have a lot of markets to choose from, there are probably 10 different farmers markets that I can attend within a half our drive from our home.

Has your local farmers market started up again?

There We Went Wassailing

January 26th, 2013

“Health to thee, good apple-tree,
Well to bear, pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
Peck-fulls, bushel-bag-fulls.”

wassailing 8
Last Saturday night, Mr Chiots and I went wassailing. It was the real wassailing, at a local orchard, with a big fire, lots of cider, both hard and sweet, musical instruments, candles, and toast soaked in cider.
wassailing 2
wassailing 3
wassailing 4
We gathered around the oldest tree in the orchard and sang the wassailing song, cider soaked toast was hung in it’s branches, then cider was poured around the base of the tree to ensure a prosperous year filled with load of apples.
wassailing 1
wassailing 5
It was a fun event, something out of the ordinary. We were especially intrigued because we’d seen Hugh talk about it on The River Cottage Series shows we watched last month.
wassailing 6
wassailing 7
John Bunker, the Maine apple guy who’s orchard the celebration was at, will hopefully be a guest on the Cultivate Simple Podcast soon. We talked about our experience wassailing on this past week’s episode if you’d like to hear a little more about it.
wassailing 9
wassailing 10
After wassailing in the orchard, we all went inside for a potluck dinner and lots of conversation. Mr Chiots and I enjoy attending events like this. There’s nothing better than meeting new people and enjoying new experiences. No doubt there will be many more interesting community events in our future.

What’s the best event you attended last year?

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?

Belfast Farmers Market

November 6th, 2012

This past Friday Mr Chiots and I headed over to Belfast, ME to hit the farmers market. It was amazingly well stocked with root vegetables, seafood, cheese, yogurt, baked goods, soap, and even water buffalo meat.

We grabbed a few items like goat milk yogurt, brussels sprouts, beets and a few scallops (yes there was seafood at the market). Mr Chiots snagged a big chewy triple ginger cookie which was made with real ingredients like butter, organic cane syrup, and fresh ginger. I’m really looking forward to trying a water buffalo steak next week, it’s such a unique item to see.

What’s the most interesting item you’ve spotted at your local farmers market?

Friday Favorite: Martha’s Farm

October 26th, 2012

This past week I got to spend some time touring Martha’s Farm in Ashland, Ohio. Martha has been my go-to place for chicken, turkey, eggs and vegetables for the past couple years.

Martha is a wonderful person, she’s friendly, kind and has a real passion for good healthy food and community. It’s a bonus that she’s from Ecuador so we can chat in Spanish sometimes when we get together.

If you live in the NE Ohio area, I highly recommend visiting Martha’s farm and getting your Thanksgiving turkey from her. Her smoked turkeys are to die for. I don’t even like turkey and I ordered an extra one for our freezer!

Martha is a Quechua Indian from Ecuador, so she’s fascinating to talk to. She’s had so many wonderful life experiences and loves to share them. I’m hoping to get over to the week after Thanksgiving to help her write down her story. Mr Chiots and I would also love to make a documentary about her.

This is what I love about local eating. One of my favorite things to do is to head out to the farms and get to know who’s growing the things I eat. There’s nothing better than finding someone who is as passionate as you about good quality food.

Do you have a favorite local farm?

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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.