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Fieldstone Gardens

May 27th, 2015

This past weekend, Mr Chiots and I headed out to Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro, Maine. It’s a small greenhouse nearby that I’ve been wanting to go to for quite a while. I really appreciate greenhouses like this one, you can really tell it’s all about gardening, not necessarily about selling plants. The greenhouse is surrounded by beautiful fields with old stone walls. There’s an orchard, ornamental beds filled with lilacs and other perennials. There’s a small greenhouse filled with heat loving plants, a snail topiary in the growing field out back, a beautiful little potting shed store.
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The pig statue above is now on my list of thing I’d love to have in the garden. Since we’re not getting real pigs this year, one like this would be perfect. I’m so happy to have discovered this beautiful place. Places like this are such an inspiration and I’d much rather spend my gardening cash at little local stores instead of the big box greenhouses. This place is so nice I’ll be taking any gardener that comes to visit up to walk the grounds.

Do you have a great little greenhouse nearby where you can purchase plants and be inspired?

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 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?

Local Roots Market in Wooster, OH

February 15th, 2010

On Saturday I was able to head back to Local Roots Market in Wooster, OH. They closed for a few weeks over the holidays to do some improvements to their location. The cafe is finally open, serving coffee and some delicious food. They have a small kitchenette area where producers can cook samples of their products.

The most interesting change they made was to make the market more like a grocery store. The items have bar codes and you pay for all your items at a checkout lane, which is very convenient. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this set-up, but it is very nice. They have all the meat and dairy in a few coolers. They’re on-line ordering system is up and running as well. This is a high-tech farmer’s market.

Many of the growers were attending a grower’s convention so there weren’t any fresh greens at the market, but they’ll be back next weekend. I was still able to fill 2 baskets with potatoes, onions, shallots, fresh mushrooms, whole grain flour, popcorn, dried beans, raw milk cheeses and a few baked goods. One of the things I was really happy to find was flour from organic grains grown locally. I bought a bag and I can’t wait to make something with it. But the best item I found was some organic free-trade coffee roasted by a local guy!

Year-round markets like this will encourage more people to eat locally. I think one of the main hurdles to local eating is the availability of food during the winter months, especially here in Ohio. If you don’t can or preserve food, it can be difficult to eat locally all year long. Year-round farmer’s markets will really help the local food movement.

I’m happy this market is doing so well because it will save me some time in the summer. I won’t have to can or freeze as much if I know there’s a local source for fresh vegetables during the long winter months. I will gladly support local growers and purchase fresh greens from them throughout the winter. I’m also happy to see that they offer non-food items. You can buy local wool yarn, roving, soap, lip balm, and even powdered dish washing detergent a local person makes!

Do you have any year-round farmer’s market in your area?

A big thanks to Mr Chiots for going with me and taking all these photos. And YES I wrote this post while watching the Olympics last night but ran out of time to put in photos, that’s why it’s posting later this morning :)

Dried Heirloom Beans

January 19th, 2010

I really like dried beans of all shapes and sizes. They make hearty warming soups in the winter and wonderful salads in the summer. I usually buy my beans in bulk at the local health food store, but when I can find them locally I buy them up. Last year I bought a few pints of dried mixed beans at my local farmers market, they were wonderful. Sadly, I was only able to buy a few pounds, not nearly enough for all year.

A few weeks ago, I was able to find some dried beans at the Local Roots Market. They’re beautiful beans. I got a pound each of “Jade”, “Maxibelle”, and “Dragon Tongue”. I may save a few of each to plant in the garden this summer.

I decided to make a simple bean soup from the “Jade” beans. I have some bacon in the fridge, a few onions in the pantry and some dried sage that will pair wonderfully for a simple bean soup.

I usually soak beans for about 24 hours before cooking them (I add a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar to the soaking water). These beans will be on the stove all day today, simmering away into a warming winter soup. Not only is this a delicious winter meal, but it’s healthy and inexpensive!

Are beans eaten in your household? What’s you’re favorite way to eat them?

Make Your Own: Ghee or Clarified Butter

January 7th, 2010

We’ve been trying to find local alternatives to things we buy from far and wide. One of the things I purchase regularly is organic olive oil from California. I won’t quit buying and using olive oil since it’s a healthy and delicious, but I have been trying to find something to replace it in some recipes. A couple years ago I read about ghee. Ghee is basically clarified butter or pure butter fat. Because the milk solids have been removed it has a higher smoking point (won’t burn as easily as butter) and it is shelf stable, so it keeps much longer than butter. It’s super easy to make and it’s a delicious addition to many dishes.

Since you’re all making your own butter after yesterday’s post, I figure you’d need a way to use it up. To make ghee you need unsalted butter, you can use fresh homemade butter or store bought butter. I’d recommend finding some good quality local pastured butter of course, but you can use the regular stuff from the grocery. The final flavor and color of your ghee will depend on the quality of your butter. I generally use at least a pound of butter, usually two.

Put the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, it will sputter a bit so you want some extra room and a taller pan. Then place the pot on medium heat and melt the butter without stirring.
When you first melt it, foam will appear. The butter will sputter a bit, this is the water boiling out of the butter. Gradually as you boil the butter the foam will disappear and you’ll end up with a beautiful golden liquid that smells wonderfully buttery! Keep an eye on your ghee, you don’t want to end up with browned butter ghee. It usually takes between 20-30 minutes depending on the temperature and the amount of butter you’re melting.

It’s time to remove from the heat when you see golden brown milk solids on the bottom of the pot. You can use a spoon to move some of the foam aside to keep an eye on the milk solids. You want to remove from heat before the milk solids become too brown. Pour through a strainer fitted with some several layers of cheesecloth to strain out the butter solids (which our pets love). Then pour the ghee into a jar or container of your choice, I prefer a wide mouth mason jar.

You’ll end up with the most beautiful golden liquid. This liquid will harden when it cools becoming opaque. Depending on the temperature of your home you final product can be between the consistency of a thick liquid that you can pour to a scoop able thickness. Your ghee does not need to be refrigerated, but you can if you want to. You can use ghee like you use oil, for frying eggs, making popcorn and sauteing veggies. It makes a wonderful addition to just about any dish.

Have you ever had or made ghee?

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.