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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.
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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. ┬áIt’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.
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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?

A Labor of Love

January 25th, 2014

Yesterday we celebrated a birthday. When I asked Mr Chiots what he’d like for a birthday meal, he said “Lasagne”.
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It was a slow meal, a very slow meal. It all started way back in the fall of 2012 when we first moved to Maine. I planted garlic in the back garden. This garlic was harvested this past summer and it seasoned the sauce and the sweet Italian sausage that used in the lasagne.
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The next step towards reaching this meal was starting onion seeds in January. Then in March seeds were started for tomatoes and herbs used in the sausage and the sauce.
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I canned this sauce last fall, it’s perfect. The tomatoes and herbs are roasted for many hours in a low oven. The result is a deeply flavored sweet sauce, with none of the acidic bite of a sauce made with fresh tomatoes.
Fit for a king
On Thursday evening I made a batch of ricotta cheese with Jersey milk from a local farm and lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard. I procured whole milk mozzarella, parmesan and romano at the local co-op. I also purchased mushrooms to add to the lasagne.
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The hens provided eggs for the pasta, King Arthur Flour provided the flour.
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I wrote a post on Eat Outside the Bag about making your own pasta if you’d like to give it a try.
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Mr Chiots ended up eating three servings, so I guess he thought it was delicious. The good thing is, there are only two of us, so it will take us a few days to eat up the rest of the pan. I always find that lasagne is much better when reheated.
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It’s certainly satisfying to see all the different ingredients that were grow and raised right here coming together to form a delicious meal. For my birthday I always used to request chicken and dumplings, luckily, another meal with ingredients that can be mostly grown or raised right here.

What dish do you request for your birthday meal?

Apple Picking

October 1st, 2013

Yesterday morning I went apple picking with my neighbor. It was a cute little local place, with a beautiful old barn and old apple trees of all varieties (Bailey’s Orchard in Whitestown). For me, apples signify fall. Mr Chiots LOVES apples and apple cider, he’s in seventh heaven during the fall!
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I didn’t pick any for myself, we have a few apple trees in the garden that are loaded with apples. A gallon of cider and a few small baskets of pears did make it home with me though. I’m hoping to pick a few baskets of apples today to get started on making some applesauce and apple butter for Mr Chiots.

Do you have a favorite variety of apple?

Friday Favorite: Farm Stands

May 10th, 2013

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a farm stand. Whenever I see a sign like this, I slam on the brakes to see what they’ve got. Last Saturday, on my way between plant sales, I spotted this beautiful farm on a back road.
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Lucky me, I scored a few bags of spinach and very spicy tiny leaved salad mix. Mr Chiots and I especially love seeing these when we’re out traveling. It certainly makes adding local vegetable to your plate much easier wherever you are.
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I especially love little stands like this that work on the honor system. There’s something so comforting about knowing that there are still honest folks in the world and things like this still work.

Do you ever stop when you see signs like this while traveling?

Quote of the Day: Alice Waters

December 30th, 2012

“The things most worth wanting are not available everywhere all the time.”

Alice Waters

We’ve just passed the solstice and the days are getting longer. The solstice also officially kicks off winter, the lean months. When you try to eat locally and seasonally, this time of year can get to be a little long; especially when you’re used to eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Lately, I’ve been craving something green. For now, that spot in my diet is filled with sauerkraut, cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, carrots and potatoes.
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Of course I could go to the local supermarket and get lettuce and any other green thing I wanted, but that kind of defeats the purpose. If I did, I probably wouldn’t enjoy them as much when I was harvesting them fresh from my garden.

What fruit or vegetable are you missing that’s out of season?

Reading & Watching

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.