EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the first issue of Source in the spring of 2014, Laura McCandlish has been writing our Farm-to-Table Family column, chronicling the culinary and growing adventures of her growing family. She is leaving to spend a sabbatical year in Virginia with her husband and son, Theo, and to have her second child.

Packing up and purging one’s possessions at 35 weeks pregnant, in the summer heat, is a most unnatural act. But that’s been my task, as we prepared to leave today on a 12-hour drive south for an academic sabbatical year in Virginia, where my economist professor husband and I grew up.

My body insists it should be nesting instead, like my fellow expectant mothers in our prenatal class at Brunswick’s Jai Yoga and our midwifery support group at Mid Coast Hospital. They are stockpiling their freezers with casseroles, painting nurseries and washing and folding baby clothes. I’m at least prepping a hospital bag, in case I go into (slightly) premature labor as we creep down I-95 with our 4-year-old, Theo. We’ll take frequent breaks for me to pee and stretch.

When we resettled in Brunswick from Oregon three Augusts ago, Maine felt like a happy homecoming. Although we welcome this coming hiatus from New England winter (less bundling up a new babe), we already eagerly anticipate our return next June. The goal is to maximize precious Maine summer.

In Charlottesville, we’ll embrace our native Virginia peanuts, Chesapeake blue crab and oysters, Hanover tomatoes, Stayman apples, superior barbecue and maybe even a Farmstead Ferment’s Culture Club CSA for sauerkraut and kefir.

Plus, we relish the thought of living in a wine-producing region again. After baby comes, we’ll try doorstep dropoffs of organic, local food (including prepared meals) from growing Charlottesville-based grocery delivery company Relay Foods.


Wearing my newborn, I plan to hike off the significant second baby weight I’ve gained on the Blue Ridge Mountain trails that will surround us. But Thomas Jefferson’s progressive university town is undeniably landlocked. I know we will long for Maine’s craggy, seemingly endless and accessible miles of coastline, and the seafood – the mussels, scallops, seaweed and pollock our hardworking fishermen (and women) bring to shore. And yes, lobster, too, particularly in the rolls from Libby’s Market and the exquisite lobster tail-compressed watermelon Vietnamese salad roll with duck liver-peanut sauce at Tao Yuan. I already miss these and we’ve barely set out.

Before leaving, we clocked hours at our neighborhood farmers markets and farms. We savored the tomatoes, eggplant and shishito peppers just coming on. Cantaloupe and watermelon, yet to ripen here, will already be winding down in steamy Virginia, and we may arrive too late for peaches and sweet corn, too.

Normally, we’d have missed Maine’s wild blueberries, but this year they came on weeks early, by late July, even in our scraggly backyard patch, and at Brunswick’s Crystal Spring Farm, where Griffin Bannon, 12, joined his farmer-father Seth Kroeck in their new (blessedly air-conditioned and music-streaming) blue tractor to harvest thousands of pounds from the abutting barrens they lease. The pair forklifted cases onto a semi-trailer bound for Ellsworth, where the berries would be cleaned, frozen and sold to the wholesale market.

The boys were still hard at work 7 p.m. Friday, as we quit the farm with our u-pick snap beans, cilantro and marigolds, plus our second-to-last CSA haul.

There are no fresh, big garlic heads in our Crystal Spring shares this year, but after major setbacks, the farm is reviving its crop. The farmers waited five years to clear the soil, infected with a fungus from Canadian garlic seed planted in 2008.

Garlic, which also gestates in the ground for nine months, looms large in my mind during pregnancy. If I were a farmer, I’d be a garlic farmer. As an aspiring green thumb in Oregon, I learned to plant separated organic cloves around Columbus Day and forget about them until the 4th of July.


In Oregon, I planted garlic just upon confirming the pregnancy of my now 4-year-old son. I’d be with babe in arms before those bulbs would be ready to pull.

Planting garlic, like taking the plunge into parenthood, is a fraught act of faith. It’s an opportunity to cultivate patience and trust nature’s resilience. Our mid-August move thwarted my garden plans again this year, but I still planted a dozen hardneck cloves last November. Their green stalks shot up against all odds after a harsh winter. Then we harvested curlycue green scapes by July.

And I remembered to dig up the bulbs from the weed-clogged bed not long before we left. To ward off evil as we drive to Virginia, I’m carrying my homegrown heads of stinking rose.

Another totem I’ll bring is a print of “Diana of the Sea,” the 1940 painting of the self-possessed Roman goddess who protects women in childbirth. Topless virgin Diana sits in a wooden dinghy strewn with Maine lobsters, depicted by late Georgetown-dwelling artist Marguerite Zorach. Zorach was the mother of Maine’s treasured artist Dahlov Ipcar, whose farm-centric children’s books are among Theo’s favorites. This talisman was my favorite painting (on loan from the Portland Museum of Art) in the acclaimed “Night Vision: Nocturnes in American Art” exhibit now at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

The final month of pregnancy I’m learning to embrace “horticultural time” instead of our smartphone-dictated industrial clock. The certainty of my Sept. 21 due date is an illusion. Full-term babies normally arrive after 38 to 42 weeks of pregnancy. It’s a month of limbo.

“This kind of time is measured in a slower arc than we’re accustomed to, a time span that is in harmony with the biology of living things: plants and their seasons, and humans in their life cycles of birth, growth, aging and death,” says midwife Nancy Bardacke, in her helpful “Mindful Birthing” book.


Bardacke encourages us to practice living with this “don’t-know mind.” That comes more naturally to my behavioral economist husband, who studies how people (and I am the ideal lab rat) act irrationally in the face of uncertainty.

Will the botrytis neck rot and blue mold spare the garlic crop? What to do about the invasive Colorado potato beetles, and the Japanese beetles infesting the bush beans and raspberries? Flexible, rooted farmers seem to cope with life’s inherent uncertainties better than the rest of us. Especially now that climate change makes planting and harvesting dates so unpredictable.

So we strike out for Virginia, carrying Maine maple syrup, raw honey, blueberries and SunGold tomatoes. And garlic. I might plant cloves in Virginia come fall, after all, though we’ll be back in Maine before their harvest. However inefficient my husband finds my garden dithering at times, I’m compelled to ground our growing family in that warm Southern soil, even if our sabbatical there lasts just nine months.

And then, in a blink, we will transplant our then-foursome back into Maine’s often sandy, often stony yet miraculously productive and welcoming earth.

Skordalia (Greek Garlic and Potato Puree)

Skordalia is a kid-friendly hummus alternative that showcases the fresh Maine garlic and new potatoes I craved before we left for Virginia. This versatile Greek garlic sauce, sometimes made with stale bread and/or walnuts and almonds, appears in various incarnations around the Mediterranean. In her cookbook “Garlic” (from which this recipe is adapted), Janet Hazen says that Greeks serve skordalia with wild greens, beets and deep-fried cod or shark or as a dip with bread, olives, vegetables and grilled lamb or chicken. Sounds like the perfect outdoor late summer supper spread.


Makes 6 servings

4 large baking potatoes (or more small new potatoes), about 2 pounds total

8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Juice from 2 lemons

1 large egg yolk, optional


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, using the flat side of a knife or in a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and salt together into a fine paste.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the pulp from each half into a large bowl. Add the garlic paste, lemon juice and optional yolk.

Using an electric mixer or potato ricer or masher, combine the mixture until almost smooth. Mixing on low speed, slowly add the oil and vinegar, alternating between the two.

Add 1 cup cold water, and mix by hand until smooth. Add the parsley and pepper and adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil, salt and pepper if necessary. Stir to combine and serve at room temperature.

Laura McCandlish is a Brunswick-based food writer and radio producer. Follow her on Twitter @baltimoregon and read her blog at baltimoregon.com.

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