Sunday, September 30, 2007

Maine is...

beautiful harbors
endless mountains


weathered old farmhouses overlooking the sea

New England fall asters

quiet walks

lobster boats

lobster pounds

lobster traps and gear

bright days as well as dramatic weather on top of the mountains

lovely coves

and cozy inns at the end of the day.

T and I are back home now and the Easy Houseguests have flown away to Europe ( and have arrived safely at home, too.) What a wonderful time we had traveling through New England ! We're already planning the next trip - this time we'll be their - we hope - Easy Houseguests and explore what is at their doorstep; perhaps a stay at a beach house in Denmark or island hopping in the North sea ? Stay tuned....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heeeeeeere, chickie, chickie!

The new chicks have arrived and the whole family is SO EXCITED ! As you can see, R loves them and W is very intrigued. I am beginning to gently explain that these chickens will be our food, and R keeps asking if they hurt when we eat them, or if they feel after we kill them. The whole concept is kind of amazing and bewildering, from a 4 year old's point of view.

Despite the potential of R's emotional trauma when the chicks become our dinner, I am really looking forward to having a freezer full of chickens that I KNOW were raised respectfully, ethically and organically.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

weekly grocery shopping

Glad to hear that G and T are having fun traveling through New England. I read the foliage report this evening and it says that the long hot summer has prevented the leaves from turning yet in most of the Northeast. This is actually fabulous for me and R because we are going up to Kripalu in the beginning of November.
As far as the Eat Local Challenge -- I went to Whole Foods yesterday ready to stock up on my favorite dinner --- bags of salad mix with assorted sliced veggies and then a protein on the side. The bags of salad were so sad and wilted! Even the local salad mixes looked past their freshness. A lady shopping next to me remarked that she was going to go to another supermarket to try their lettuces. However, since I am part of the eat local challenge - I got creative. Tonight I ate zuchinni, tomatoes, onions and garlic all cooked with a little olive oil and salt and pepper together with a pork cutlet. It was fresh and tasty. I also bought a spaghetti squash and am going to try to microwave it and prepare it from a recipe I found on the internet - like a little pasta carbonara with faux spaghetti. Should be pretty tasty.
The one food that I'm missing in this challenge is Bananas. I really enjoy them as a quick treat when I have along day in NYC - they are available at every deli and there are plenty of fruit vendors on the sidewalks selling them for 25 cents a piece. I will break down and have one this week I think......hee hee.

Going to the fair

We had a great time at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine.

The fair is put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and a great time was had by one and all. Here is a parade to extoll the virtues of organic practises put on by the children.

We all learned a lot !

I found out how to build a wood-burning breadbaking oven like the one on the right. T learned how to grow vegetables in winter by covering the crops with a simple greenhouse built right over the row .

It's fall in Maine

It was a wonderful fair ( check ou the guy on the lower left ) !

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Travelers' update

We are in Maine and are blown away once again by the beauty of the coves, the rocks, the woods just starting to change to their fall colors, boats in and out of their harbors, lobsters and the beautiful New England houses built long ago.
We have been to Damariscotta and seen the Pemaquid Point Light and have spent a few days on Monhegan, a tiny island out in the ocean, where T had a truly remarkeable adventure.
This morning T and I are off to the Unity Fair, an agricultural fair put on by The Maine Organic Farmers Association. The Easy Houseguests are going to explore Camden while we are away.
There is so much to see and do every day that the reports and pictures of our travels will have to wait until we have a quiet moment, which may be when we return home. We are having a grand time and are enjoying every minute of this trip !

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cheers !

While on the road, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to eat locally . However, we found you can always fall back on locally brewed beer ! In the small glass is a sample of pumpkin beer, the big glasses are filled with Pemaquid ale, both local products.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

End of summer

Eating locally is just too easy right now for those of us living in the country with a big vegetable garden. Every day I bring in baskets and buckets full of vegetables and fruit - the problem is using it all up fast enough before it becomes overripe. The kitchen is humming along at top speed : there is tomato sauce bubbling on the stove to be canned later, peppers are being chopped for freezing, apples need to be pared for apple sauce, and someone needs to help cut up those green beans, but woven through all that activity is a bittersweet good-bye to summer and all its bounty.

These early fall days make the gardener very aware that soon all harvest will cease with the first frost. Today I picked the last cucumbers for this year. Funny, how I suddenly value the odd fruit or two now and how much I appreciate it . Just a few weeks ago there was such an abundance of cucumbers , that I picked only the youngest and slimmest and the rest went to the chickens. Hmmm, seems like there is a moral here somewhere....

The Eat Local Challenge is about to ratchet up a notch, however. Tomorrow morning we start on a 10 day trip through New England with the Easy Houseguests and the big question is how we will be able to keep eating locally on the road. I've done my homework and found out a few restaurants in Maine, where local food is served, thanks to Liz at Pocket Farm, but what and where will we eat the rest of the time ? Stay tuned for road trip adventures.

And so to bed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One week later...

Look who's getting feathers !


And drinking like grown-up chickens !
We're very proud of our acomplishments here at the farm !

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Just feeling really, really overwhelmed these days. What with R having difficulty adjusting to her new class, W screaming bloody murder at every opportunity and the mail piling up it is all I can do not to run screaming from the house, let alone procure and eat an entire meal of locally produced food! I still do my part though - just this afternoon I called in to Martha Stewart Living Radio and asked the invited guest (a NYC chef) why in God's name he bought chickens from CANADA? He diplomatically explained that the producer is within a 250 mile radius (his cut-off point) and that he tried to buy locally for years but the product wasn't uniform enough. And then I won a free cookbook! Written by himself! Hurrah - that did lots to boost my spirits. Will be sure to cook from it and report back once received. Tomorrow Paul and I are off to a wedding in the North Woods of Wisconsin to the Red Crown Lodge. R and W are staying the weekend with the in-laws and I am having some serious anxiety over leaving them. I wish I could be more laid back!

Mr. Weaver and the rose

When we first moved to the country, we had a wonderful neighbor who taught me about gardening, farming and country ways. He was an old man, born in the century before last , whose wife had died and who lived alone in a big fieldstone house. The house was just as old-fashioned as he was; the first thing you smelled when you walked in was wood smoke, even in summer, and I think electricity was still a new-fangled innovation for Mr. Weaver in 1970.

I saw Mr. Weaver almost every day and each time I said good-bye after a visit, he would say " What can I give you ? " He would produce a basket of blueberries or a bucket of green beans he had picked from his garden or sometimes it would be something from his house - an oil lamp, a hackle for flax which had belonged to his mother or a 3 volume set on farming , ordered from Sears, Roebuck in 1890. I still have all those treasures, of course, but my fondest memory of a present is a gift he would invariably give me at this time of year.

After his customary " What can I give you ? ", he would cut a perfect rose from the bush blooming next to his door and present it with a gallant flourish while reciting

’TIS the last rose of summer

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

No rosebud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes,

To give sigh for sigh.

Thank you, Mr. Weaver !!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More Sightseeing

From the big city to the country - we've seen the sights around here with our guests. They enjoyed Washington, DC as well as visiting our neighbors, the Amish. We had a typical enormous Pennsylvania Dutch meal with them and the Europeans tasted root beer for the first time. What a surprise - it wasn't beer !

It was great fun seeing our everyday world through their eyes - we are fortunate that we have rolling hills, farms and the Chesapeake Bay right at our door, so there is really lots to see and do.

A big hit was the arrival of 50 chicks destined to become dinner. The houseguests are city people and everything here on the farm was fascinating to them .

Picking apples from the tree, the barn chores every morning, all the tools and equipment that accumulates on a farm and the ability to roam the woods and pastures in every direction were new experiences for our guests. Even the summer chorus of crickets and cicadas was new to them - they couldn't sleep at night because of "the noise."

They left yesterday for New York City and in one week we will pick them up there for a trip through New England . I'm totally looking forward to some local lobster eating in Maine !!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Local Eating, Colonial style

After a whirlwind week with the Easy House Guests, we have become reacquainted with all the tourist attractions around here.

First stop was Mount Vernon, home and beloved farm of George Washington, to introduce our foreign guests to American history and give them an impression what life was like on a Colonial plantation, where everything necessary to life was produced on the farm by the people who lived there.

Besides all the normal farm products, they spun and wove the cloth for their clothes, made shoes, caught and salted herring , grew tobacco,made paint for the house , tanned leather - in short, they were pretty much self-sufficient. Talk about local eating - this was local living and in a very elegant style indeed.

I was impressed by Martha Washington's larder and smokehouse , which produced over 400 hams per year. Those hams were fed to 377 guests who visited George Washington in one year - it was Martha's rule that there should be a fresh ham on the table every day !

I was not able to produce a ham each day for my own guests, but I did manage to provide steamed crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, corn on the cob, and the ubiquitous tomatoes, this time in the form of a yummy salad made with green beans, lots of garlic , basil and a vinaigrette dressing. All of it either from our garden or the Chesapeake Bay right at our doorstep and totally local.

First ear of corn, ever !

The Eat Local Challenge continues .

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Easy house guests

After our frantic Labor Day clean-up and beautifying spree, we are now ready for our house guests from Germany.
I gingerly tried to explain to them our month-long local eating , since they will be affected by it, and was surprised by their enthusiastic reception of the idea. They are excited by all the fresh vegetables in the garden and said they could eat ripe tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As a matter of fact, here's our breakfast table this morning: two kinds of local honey, home-made peach and blackberry jam, home-made bread, the bowl of vegetables, and some ham which was still on hand. Freshly laid eggs from the chickens were turned down in favor of more ripe tomatoes.

Feeding them is going to be a piece of c...,ummm,... a slice of tomato !

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Some rules

Emlyn poses the question of whether to choose local or organic food when you can't have both in one. I think I would choose organic over local if I had to make a choice : why eat something of inferior quality which may be bad for you ?

But I think we each need to make up our own rules for this challenge.

Here are my rules :

1. Anything already in the pantry can be eaten, but no replacements can be bought, if they don't fall within the 150 mile radius T and I decided on.

2. If you can't eat a 100 % locally produced organic meal, at least have some ingredients that are local and organic.

3. If none of the food can be local, try to buy ethically produced food , which means organic , Fair Trade, no meat produced by huge commercial operations, etc.

4. If that's not possible, buy from a local farmer or business.

5. Last, tell your friends about why you are doing this and encourage them to think about where their food comes from and what they are supporting with their food dollars.

Does this help, Emlyn ? Let's hear the rules which you set for yourself.

Don't let the Perfect get in the way of the Good

I entered into this challenge with all good intentions but without decent prior planning you may as well forget it. I was doing ok until both R and W came down with a rockin' case of diahrrea and required the BRAT Diet. That's Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Tapioca pudding. The only ingredient that I can source locally is apples and I don't even know what tapioca is, let alone where it comes from! I had to rely on what I had in the pantry (not much) and what I could procure quickly (not much). So since I failed miserably this weekend, I'm planning on not letting the perfect get in the way of the good. What I mean is - I'm pressing on and trying to get more and more local with every meal. Tonight I think will be an organically raised roasted chicken (not local), organic rice (not local) and salad (local and organic). What I've found, is that many locally produced foods are not organic while you can buy organically raised bananas from Costa Rica. Because I have to feed two children, ages 4 and 1, I am stuck trying to figure out what is better: Feeding them locally grown foods, or organic foods?

More local eating

Megan, I am so happy you decided to join us in the Eat Local Challenge ! It's a lot of fun and somewhat sobering , especially when you realize how much of our food either 1. comes from incredibly far away or 2. is packed or distributed by some far away place and you have no clue where it comes from or even what is in it !
As far as fruit which is ripe right now - apples, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, plums, pears , melons of every description. I'm sure there are a few more, but the above should be readily available everywhere.
Can't wait to read about what's cooking in NYC !

Yoga in the Berkshires

I'm back from a week in lovely Lenox Massachusetts teaching yoga for plus-sizes at the Kripalu center. R came with me and trained kettlebells while I led my group in postures, meditation and creative artwork about body image. The group of students was very diverse and hard-working. I just love teaching and seeing them "get it" -- that moment where their eyes light up as they discover that the postures are possible for all of us if we use props and work slowly.

I'm ready to accept the eat local challenge. I had to restock our fridge after a week of being fed delicious gourmet veggie meals up at the spa -- and it was depressing!! Our local Whole Foods is very expensive and fun to shop. However, they don't have a large selection of local food. I've found that the A and P down the street actually has more locally produced produce.

I got red potatoes from NJ, tomatoes and green peppers from NY state, eggs from Nj and chicken breast and sirloin that says it was packed in NJ - but who knows where the animals came from???? I also got two bananas - sigh - from an organic farm but in Costa Rica! Jesus. And peaches and pluots that came from California. Such a bummer. Isn't there some local fruit that is ripe now at the end of summer? Can't find it at my local supermarkets.

Also, it is not lost on me that I just burned many gallons of fossil fuel going up and down from Mass. Seems like it's not easy trying to reduce our carbon impact on the earth.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

We really did labor this weekend mowing the pastures, clearing the garden of spent plants, mulching and composting ,getting ready for fall and winter.

T put together a new composting machine ( Finished Compost in A Mere SIX Days !!! ) It's fun to fill up the compartments to see whether it really will turn into compost that fast. The idea is to turn the drums every day - there's a handle on the right , aerating the contents and thus speeding up the decomposing process.

I was going to show pictures of all the lovely meals I had cooked for the Eat Local Challenge, but they all disappeared as soon as they hit the table. I'm beginning to wonder if the Eat Local Challenge is turning into a Butternut Squash Challenge here at chez RFD. We have a wheelbarrow full of squashes and have eaten them for every meal for days !
First I roasted cubes of peeled butternut with some butter and finished with a sprinkle of brown sugar - elegant with a roasted chicken and a green bean salad with sweet SunSugar cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil.

Next, I sauteed slices of squash in olive oil, garlic and a splash of white wine, why not ? I also cooked slices in butter and oil with garlic and then removed the squash from the pan and deglazed the pan with red wine vinegar and a little brown sugar until the latter had caramelized and poured this over the squash - divine ! This squash is terrific hot, warm or cold, even straight out of the refrigerator if you want a little snack.

I am beginning to wonder if we are sufferingfrom a vitamin A deficiency ( butternut is high in A ) or if we are simply eating seasonally as well as locally.