Monday, March 10, 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.
This New Year’s Eve, The Root is raising a toast to booze. In this post we look at an alcohol-related historical archive with Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books in Biddeford. We will chase this post with one on some wonderful rare cocktail books tomorrow.
Ledgers from the DuVivier & Co. archive.
On January 17, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect banning the manufacture, sale or importing of alcoholic beverages. Nearly a year earlier, a New York-based importer and distributor of wines and spirits had begun making efforts to survive and adapt to this law. The company shifted its inventory of top flight wines to Canada, and hardware and other materials were purchased for a possible bootlegging or clandestine storage operation at a warehouse in Guttenberg, NJ. One can imagine the firm’s owners as part of a criminal experiment - gun toting organized crime syndicate partnership and all.
Straw Farm sheep drive on a Maine island, spring 2013.
I hope are having a wonderful and relaxing holiday season eating, drinking, and being generally merry. With Christmas baking and yet another viewing of Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle in the rear view, I have begun making my final selections for the next few months of Root stories. During the Root’s sophomore year, stories will continue to look at Maine’s sustainable food movement and celebrate the state’s food heroes and traditions. As you might imagine, Maine offers an abundance of stories from profiling people revitalizing an old mill town with an urban farm to showcasing the next generation of farmers who are making new traditions.
As has been the case for decades, Maine is at the front of this country’s agricultural stage. The Pacific Northwest may sit comfortably in mainstream media’s spotlight, but it is in Maine that I for one am most excited to witness the extraordinarily smart and passionate people – young and old of varied backgrounds natives and from away – who continue to press forward with their work to create a sustainable food system that will preserve the small family farm, feed families living on the financial cliff, and provide glorious raw ingredients to some of this state’s great chefs. They do what is needed and much more.
Need a last minute holiday gift? Sign up someone you love for a share in one of the 180 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs available from Maine farmers. Between early June and the end of October shareholders in a CSA have direct access to fresh produce from a local farm. Some farmers who have seen the value of the basic CSA model have expanded to offer meat, raw milk, cheese, eggs, maple syrup, honey, homemade baked goods and flowers. The idea of a CSA is that members pay up-front for a share prior to the growing season, providing the local producer with much-needed capital and giving them a market and guaranteed income. In exchange, consumers get seasonal produce, an intimate connection to the people growing their food, and the knowledge that their investment is helping support the small family farmer. CSA plans vary in product, price, share size, duration and distribution.
To find a CSA farm in Maine check out the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s database here. For more information on a CSA , including tips and questions to ask when signing up, check out Local Harvest’s website.
Live in or around Portland and love seafood? Consider signing up a family member or gifting yourself a share in Salt and Sea’s Community Supported Fishery (CSF). The model is the same as that of a CSA, but instead of produce the shareholder has weekly access to fresh, locally caught, sustainable seafood.
Breaking up homemade cinnamon hard candy.
Note: See Part One from Tuesday for a description of my trip to Aroostook County and Felicia’s family recipes for Scrable, Felicia’s Turtles, and No Fail Chocolate Fudge.
This holiday season create or add on to your edible traditions by making homemade candy. Wondering what to get as a last minute gift and don’t want to spend a lot of money? Homemade candy is a festive way to mix up your holiday cookie plate, and will easily trump anything you will find at the store. Your friends and family will not be the only benefactors, just think about how much more enjoyable time in your warm kitchen with family or friends is to a crowded mall. Believe me, as long as you know how to read a candy thermometer and have a little patience these recipes are a cinch!
The Buck family home in Mapleton, Maine - potato country.
It all started with Felicia Buck’s cinnamon rolls. In early October I had spent the better part of a day in Felicia’s kitchen getting to know her and watching her make those soul-soothing rolls. When she mentioned her annual holiday cooking session with her friends I was in.
For the past four years, Felicia has opened up her home to a few longtime friends and neighbors for a day of candy making. We usually start around 9 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. she said. Then Felicia told me we would be making chocolate and peanut butter fudge, peanut butter cups, chex mix, caramel popcorn, turtles, 100 grand bars, hard cinnamon, clove, spearmint candy and more. I returned to Aroostook County to see this sugarfest for myself, and as I drove on near empty snow-covered roads, found the old white farmhouse with an antique sleigh with ice skates and a red ribbon on the front porch, and knew I was in the right place.