Cat Morrow, a slow foods educator who lives in Kenduskeag, has two Instagram pages dedicated to homesteading and getting “a little bit more Maine on the plate.” Photo courtesy of Cat Morrow

The longer we all stay at home, the more advice we’re going to need on cooking the food already stored in our pantries or, as the landscape warms up, growing our own. This week, we profile three Mainers who are sharing their interests and expertise on Instagram. Follow them if you are looking for new ways to make nutritious meals for your family, have an interest in gardening or homesteading, or just need a cocktail (don’t we all?).

@wholesomeeveryday and @legacyacres

Cat Morrow of Kenduskeag is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom to three boys she schools at home, even in normal times. She’s also a quirky homesteader and a self-described “nutrition nerd” with social anxiety. In her Instagram posts, she holds the hands (virtually, of course) of the homebound as they struggle to make bread for the first time or try to decide what to do with long-forgotten ingredients in their pantries.

Her unofficial motto is: “Bread is my love language.”

Morrow is originally from Stonington, but growing up as a military brat, she moved all over the country. She already had a decade of homesteading experience before she and her husband, Stephen, settled back in Maine three years ago. The family lives in an 1800s-era home, on an old strawberry farm called the Legacy Acres Family Farmstead. They are not farmers, but they live as if they were, baking bread in cast iron skillets and making soap with animal fat. “My main focus is doing things like my ancestors did 200 years ago,” Morrow said.

Morrow has become a slow foods educator, and she and partner Ellie Markovitch hold what they call “nourishing workshops” in the community, most often at Tiller & Rye, a grocer in Brewer. (Maine Grains has provided flour for some of their free baking classes, part of an initiative to tie people together through baking projects, using the hashtag #baketoconnect.)

Cat Morrow walks her Instagram followers through the process of baking breads like this loaf she made in her kitchen at Legacy Acres in Kenduskeag. Photo courtesy of Cat Morrow

When the pandemic got a foothold and basics like yeast disappeared from store shelves, Morrow and Markovitch began giving away sourdough starter, “trying to normalize bread again.” Now, grateful home bakers are sending Morrow photos of their loaves, pot pies and cinnamon rolls. (Morrow also gives away starter at her farm stand, where she continues to sell eggs and her homemade breads.)

“Many people in Maine wonder how they are going to eat, and it’s silly to think they would do anything other than just try to survive” during this public health crisis, Morrow said. “We want to fix that. We want to teach people how to thrive with what they have available.”

Morrow has two Instagram accounts. The first, @wholesomeeveryday, is an older account that focuses on her interest in nutrition and has 1,341 followers. On that site, she discusses topics such as fermenting, sprouting, and how to shop for nutrient-dense staples to make over 21st-century pantries. You’ll find posts about freezing bananas to use in raw kefir smoothies, and instructions on making hot honey and lazy hasselback potatoes. Name ingredients to her, and she will make suggestions to help “clean up” your meals. That means buying local, too. “We’re trying to get a little bit more Maine on the plate,” she said.

Morrow’s other Instagram site, @legacyacres, has 910 followers and is more personal. It’s filled with beautiful photos of what she’s been making in the kitchen (as well as a couple scary ones of her cat Kimchi and a dog she calls Pig because he’ll eat anything). She’s also posted videos that are virtual tours of her kitchen, where she talks about making sourdough muffins and table bread, and how she takes care of her cast iron.

Whichever account you follow, you’re sure to find helpful advice for feeding your family through this public health emergency.

“The major thing we are lacking here in Maine is connection – to our roots, to each other, to our meals,” Morrow said. “The current crisis is bringing that all to light. We lost touch with each other and what’s on our tables.”

Maine Bourbon Girl, aka MBG, writes from Waldoboro about bourbon and shares cocktail recipes on her Instagram account. Photo courtesy of Maine Bourbon Girl

@mainebourbongirl

Yes, we know that making a good cocktail is probably lower on your priority list these days, but with bars and restaurants closed for the foreseeable future, Mainers who like cocktails (especially parents after a long day of homeschooling the kids) have had to learn how to become their own bartenders. Maine Bourbon Girl may be their new superhero.

She calls herself MBG, and she’s a 32-year-old from Waldoboro. (Her real name is Leslie and, like Clark Kent, she wants to preserve her alter ego’s privacy and keep at least some of the mystique alive, so she asked us not to reveal her last name). She worked for 17 years in the hospitality industry, including stints as a bartender.

MBG, on Instagram for three years now, has 2,060 followers, most from New York and Louisville and between 25 to 44 years old. The Instagram account was born over a bar conversation with a customer. They were talking about bourbon, and the customer said he thought MBG should share her expertise. When she balked, protesting that many others are more knowledgeable than she, “he said, ‘You don’t have to be the world authority on bourbon,’” MBG recalled. “’You can just be Maine’s authority on bourbon. You can be Bourbon Girl.’”

Why bourbon? Whiskey has always been MBG’s favorite libation. In her early 20s, she first took a liking to Canadian whiskies “because they’re a little sweeter.” The she tried an Irish whiskey, “and that’s when I started diving deeper,” she said. “I tried Maker’s Mark. We were driving cross country and decided to make a pit stop in Kentucky, and I was opened up to this whole new world that I hadn’t realized existed. And it grew from there.”

MBG thinks women have always been interested in whiskey, and now social media is helping them to connect. She gets a lot of support online from men – 75 percent of her followers are male – but not so much in real life. You don’t have to explain mansplaining to her. “They don’t always take me as seriously as an authority in person,” she said. “It makes me chuckle, but it is what it is.”

This Blood Orange Ginger Whiskey Sour was the result of a pantry challenge on the Maine Bourbon Girl Instagram page. Photo courtesy of Maine Bourbon Girl

MBG’s followers solicit her advice, or ask for the recipe for a drink she’s just posted. (She always shares.) Since the coronavirus outbreak, she is trying to offer more practical suggestions for inexperienced people now making cocktails at home. It helps that she is really into “burn and turn” drinks – cocktails that use four or fewer “parts,” or ingredients.

“If you can make an elevated cocktail in four parts or less, I feel like people can look at it and go ‘Oh yeah, I can do this,’” she said.

Look for pantry challenges on her Instagram, where followers dig through their cupboards for ingredients to see what they can create. MBG did the same herself recently, using a single blood orange she had around, along with ginger root, egg white and lemon juice and concocting a Blood Orange Ginger Whiskey Sour.

And now for the question everyone asks her: Favorite Maine bourbon? She likes Split Rock Distilling in Newcastle because they are close to home. “This week, I’m particularly drinking Wiggly Bridge,” she said, naming a York distillery. “I’ve got a bottle in the house. I love the long, dry finish. It has a nice kind of cinnamon at the end.”

Use Maine maple syrup to make this Sugar Shack Sour from Maine Bourbon Girl. Photo courtesy of Maine Bourbon Girl

These days, MBG is making herself a daily hot toddy “to try to ward off the COVID-19.”

“I don’t normally drink every day,” she said, “but I’ve been having a small hot toddy every day with high-proof bourbon. I swear, so far, so good.”

SUGAR SHACK SOUR

3 ounces bourbon
1 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce maple syrup
1 egg white
Aromatic Bitters (Coastal Root preferred)

Add all ingredients into shaker and dry shake (no ice) for 30 seconds. Add a few cubes of ice and shake again for 10-15 seconds. Strain into glass. Finish with a couple dashes of bitters and enjoy!

@re.native.farming

For Joe Corridoni, the coronavirus has been like a kick in the pants from God.

For 13 years, the 33-year-old barber and father of six has wanted to own a farm and start homesteading. Last year, he and his wife, Nicki, finally purchased a 10-acre place in York County, but Corridoni kept working to put as much money in the bank as possible before starting out on his own.

Joe Corridoni keeps records in a journal while starting broccoli, arugula, cauliflower and chard on his York County farm. Photo courtesy of Joe Corridoni

On March 18, after Gov. Janet Mills urged all nonessential businesses to shut down, he worked until about 12:30 p.m. and realized he’d only cut one person’s hair that morning. The owner of the shop shut it down that afternoon, and Corridoni was out of work and left wondering how he was going to feed his big family.

That was the “kick in the pants” the Christian family needed to finally start homesteading in a serious way. That very afternoon, Corridoni went out and bought supplies, including everything he needed to build a hoop house. This is the year, Corridoni decided, to “get going on what our real desire in life is, which is raising family and being good stewards of the ground that God has put us on. That’s been my truest desire in life – to farm, to have animals and have a garden, but also interacting with the wildlife and trying to set up better habitat for them as well.”

Seed trays in Joe Corridoni’s kitchen, seeded with tomato, peppers, cabbages, onions and leeks. Photo courtesy of Joe Corridoni

If you’ve been thinking about growing your own food to avoid the hoarding in grocery stores, or if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a homesteader, then following Corridoni’s brand new Instagram account, which has just 43 followers so far, could be a valuable lesson in both what to do and how to avoid mistakes. Watch his progress over the coming weeks and learn.

Already, he has posted photos of the cabbage, onion and leek sprouts that are poking above the soil, emerging from seed he started in his hoop house and in the kitchen. He plans to grow potatoes, carrots, radishes, Ethiopian kale, cold-tolerant greens and Brussels sprouts. “Right now, I’m thinking about what can we get growing soon.” Corridoni said in a recent phone interview, with one of his 4-month-old twin daughters napping in his arms.

He also has fruit trees on order – apple, pear, peach and hazelnut – as well as blueberry bushes.

York County new farmer Joe Corridoni plans to raise meat rabbits this year and use their manure as fertilizer. Photo courtesy of Joe Corridoni

The family is raising free-range chickens and one duck – all of them “picked over” by a fox that lives in the oak forest that surrounds the farm. Corridoni was expecting new chicks to arrive by the end of the week. He’s posted a photo of his new Silver Fox rabbits, bred for meat that he will sell.

Corridoni was born in Kansas. He was a military kid, and has lived on bases in Alaska, Michigan and California. His wife grew up in Maine, so in 2008 they moved back here. He got interested in farming at around age 19, after a conversation with a friend who grew up gardening and canning. Corridoni had thought of gardening as just growing a couple tomato plants in the back yard, so “that conversation kind of changed the course of my life,” he said.

“I got to thinking. ‘I’ve always had electricity,’” he said. “’I’ve always been able to reach into the refrigerator and grab whatever I want, reach into the pantry and grab whatever I want.’ And the thought occurred to me one day, what if I couldn’t do that? What does a person even do?”

He decided he wanted to learn farming skills. Over the past decade, he has had small gardens, raised and slaughtered pigs with his father-in-law (who had a six-acre farm), and raised dairy goats, meat rabbits and chickens.

“I’ve been playing in the sandbox,” he said, “so right now it’s time to step it up and put it all into practice and try to make sure my family’s fed, at least – literally fed.”

Fledgling York County farmer Joe Corridoni tests some old seed in preparation for planting this year. Photo courtesy of Joe Corridoni

Corridoni is clearly hoping his Instagram will help feed people, but not just by illustrating how to plant carrots. He is a spiritual man, and some of his posts are designed to feed peoples’ souls as well as their stomachs – not in a holier-than-thou, in-your-face way, but in a “we’re-all-in-this-together” way. From one recent post:

“Remember to hope. Fear is a liar, a usurper of joy, and a destroyer. It can rot our heart. And I let it too often. But that is the battle we have to do something about before we can help or encourage others.”

Corridoni confesses that he freaks out about the coronavirus as much as anyone else. What calms and comforts him are his wife’s encouragement, reading the Psalms, and farming.

“Those are the only three things that are kind of keeping me sane right now,” he said. “I hope that people will try to do something constructive, try to start something constructive at home and not just sit in front of Fox News or CNN.”

Like, maybe, grow something.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.