“Health to thee, good apple-tree,
Well to bear, pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?Filed under Festivals, Going Local | Comments (9)
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?Filed under Farmer's Market, Going Local, Quote | Comments (19)
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?Filed under Going Local | Comments (11)
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?
We’re back in business as far as our raw milk is concerned. Luckily it’s much easier to come by in Maine that in Ohio. Back in Ohio, we were lucky that our dairy farm was only a few miles away, though I would have driven a long way to get milk from them. They stocked us up with lots of milk before we left and we were on our last jar.
I had a list of farms to call and visit, but then our neighbor gave me the name of a friend who does dairy on a small scale. We headed down the road yesterday to see her cows and chat with her. She has 3 Jersey cows that she milks. The dry periods are staggered throughout the year so she’s always milking 2 cows.
They were out frolicking in the 40 acres of pasture. In fact we weren’t sure if we were going to find them when we first arrived, but they finally came around. One of them thought my camera was a delicious cow treat and kept trying to eat it.
We made it home with a gallon of fresh raw milk. The cows we got milk from back in Ohio were Normandy cows. The Jersey milk is definitely different, much creamier. Milk is one of those funny things you always think it just tastes like milk until you start drinking pastured raw milk. Then you start to notice the changes that come throughout the seasons and from different cows.
Now that we’ve been drinking raw milk for many years I could never go back to the regular stuff. Even when we had to get lightly pasteurized milk from another small local dairy it always tasted boiled and weird to me. I’m happy that we should have enough options here in Maine to have a steady supply of raw milk all year long. Though I must admit, I’ll miss heading out to the farm on Thursdays and my chats with Dawn!
What product do you source locally or make at home that you could never buy the store/processed version again?Filed under Going Local | Comments (30)