Thursday, April 17, 2014
Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.
When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.
In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.
Maine and other maple producing states and the Canadian provinces are expected to soon adopt international standards for maple syrup grading. Based on what has been proposed, there will be a grading standard for maple syrup based on color and flavor profiles. There will be two grades. 1) Grade A with 4 classifications: Golden Color, Delicate Taste; Amber Color, Rich Taste; Dark Color, Robust Taste; Very Dark Color Strong Taste and 2) Processing Grade.
Since January 1980, Maple syrup has been graded according to the Canadian, United States, or Vermont standards based on its density and translucency. As a promotion and marketing organization made up of U.S. and Canadian producers and processors, the International Maple Syrup Institute’s (ISMI) primary impetus for changing the grades is to alleviate consumer confusion about the difference between the grades, and have continuity for export markets.
The new maple grading system has been a law in Maine since it was passed and signed by the Governor on May 22, 2103. However it does not take effect until the United States Department of Agriculture, ISMI, and the federal government of Canada have officially adopted the new international system and sent written notice to the Maine legislature. “I expect this process to be very efficient and timely once the USDA and the International Institute notifications are in place,” said Ronald E. Dyer, Director Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations, the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry.
The Maine Grain Alliance will offer a two-day workshop March 24 and 25 covering all aspects of being the proprietor of a village artisan bakery. Professionals will be on hand to cover marketing, financial management, equipment needs, and hands-on production baking. Cost is $175; includes breakfast and lunch both days, with a social hour and dinner the first evening. Location is Maine Grain & Bread Lab at the Somerset Grist Mill 42 Court Street Skowhegan.
Meet your farmers and fishermen at locations around the state February 28, March 1, and March 2. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association organizes these events, which are part celebration and part education. Local farmers, fishermen and other food producers will tell community members how to enjoy local foods and support local businesses in a meaningful way. For a list of locations go here. Find a CSA near you with MOFGA's Maine CSA Directory.
Learn to safely tap maple trees and make maple syrup in a YOU CAN workshop 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, February 26, at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County Office, 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft.
Matt's Coffee wood roaster and containers of beans.
In the Root’s newest series on coffee, we will be looking at some of the craftsmen who make up Maine’s rapidly evolving specialty coffee industry. Their coffee is the antithesis of the water-soluble instant coffee you will find in grocery stores or the over-roasted cup from the corner Starbucks. Part one of the four-part series can be found here.
For this series The Root is working with Anestes Fotiades, the Editor of the Portland Food Map and someone who appreciates great coffee.
Matt's Wood Roasted Organic Coffee.
Coffee may not be produced in the state, but every day the good people of Maine drink cups of the “king of the American breakfast table”.
The United States is the second-largest importer of coffee beans, bringing in 23.5 of the approximately 150.5 million bags sold worldwide. Wonder how much of that coffee ends up in Maine? Well, we can’t tell you that exactly – but know this - Mainers like their coffee! Arabica and Coffee By Design opened in the mid-1990s, Bard in 2009, Speckled Ax and Tandem came on the scene in 2012, Carman’s and Black Cat in 2013…you get the idea. According to Mainebiz, Portland, Maine has as many specialty and commercial coffeehouses per capita as Portland, Oregon, and is second in the country only to Seattle in coffee shop density. In other parts of the state coffee is a big part of the culture as well – in 2010, 44 North began roasting in the upstairs of the historic Deer Isle schoolhouse and “way way back” in 1992 Rock City Roasters quickly found a local following in Rockland.
Colman Andrews, editorial director of the Daily Meal.com, and a cofounder of Saveur magazine, has a new book out called Taste of America. The winner of eight James Beard journalism and book awards, Andrews has written books about cooking in Italy, Ireland, the Mediterranean, and the great Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. In The Taste of America he turns his attention back to America’s shores with the ever so essential question: If you are what you eat, what does America taste like? It turns out 250 edible items including Maine’s own Congdon’s Doughnuts, saltines, rainbow trout, bratwurst, maple syrup, lima beans, persimmons, and jelly beans.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Andrews about his book, Maine seafood, and the state of food writing in America. Following is an edited version of our conversation….
For the record I like that you included junk food. Do you feel you have had to justify including it?