Archive for the ‘an edible life’ Category

solstice dinner

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

late dinner

Monday, June 18th, 2012

cooking later


These long days of June always sneak up on me.  We’ve been eating later and later as the days stretch out and we try and take advantage of every minute of daylight. In the dead of Winter we would get home long after the sun had set. Eat dinner in the complete night. And while that was many months ago, the idea of it lingers in my head. It is just two days to the Solstice, the beginning of Summer, the longest day of the year. I want to soak in as much light as possible to store it under my skin for those months to come. Those months we won’t speak of just now.

I look at the clock when we are putting dinner on the table and it is 8:30, 9:00, sometimes if I get really ambitious it’s even 10:00.  I just had to make a tart of Chard and Cheese last week and only realized this was necessary at about 7:00, because there was so much light still in the sky.  I had thought it must be about 5:00.  It was a delicious simple tart from Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol. One, that went together quickly, but the tart shell had to chill in the fridge (so it wouldn’t shrink too much upon baking) for about a half an hour.  One thing led to another and we sat down to eat at about 10:00.  Don didn’t complain, luckily the tart was worth the wait, and we did snack on some cheese to tide us over.

The light of the long days plays tricks on my mind. I’ve got plenty of time to sow another row of beets before it’s time to make dinner. I like moving with the seasons this way. We eat by the calendar, why shouldn’t meal times be equally sensitive? Why not spend more time breathing in the fresh air, watching the bees do their thing, chasing after the groundhog (!)?  Dinner will happen when the time is right. Let all those time tables go, eat when it seems right, eat what tastes good, when it’s time to eat it. We will be celebrating the Solstice with some good friends, good food and a bonfire. Take this moment to slow down and soak the season in, it’s worth it.



backyard hens

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Rhode Island Reds

It has been very interesting to notice how hens are spreading through our countryside.  When we first got birds, back in 2008, only our neighbors across the street had them.  The other neighbors looked at us as some sort of throw backs.  But now when we drive down the road from home to work we see many many houses with hens scratching around the yard.  Everyday it feels like someone else has birds.  Is it because of the economy? Is it due to the rise in knowledge of what industrial food means in terms of quality of life, both for us and the chickens? I am a firm convert.  In fact eggs anywhere else just don’t taste as good.  I am an egg snob.  Happy to see others jumping on the bandwagon.



may breakfast

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

40 cents for breakfast. And a good breakfast at that, with corn fakes and fruit, fried potato, bacon and eggs, pan cakes, maple syrup, rolls, doughnuts and coffee. It seems the Ladies of the Universalist Society were inclined to include as many possibilities  as they could in their menu. A universalist approach to breakfast indeed.

The verso includes pencil notes on the divvying up of chores for the breakfast, with a special crew assigned to the pancakes. This broadside is from Hillsdale, New Hampshire, circa 1930.


planting the garden

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

garden beds

It occurred to me last night at 3:00 AM, when I had to run outside in the thunder and lightning in my nightgown to put my tools away, that I have been very lucky with the planting of our garden this year.  After each major planting session we have had a couple of days of rain. I left my tools exposed to the elements because when I went in for the day there were no signs of inclement weather. I usually put them away at the end of a session, unless I know for some certainty that rain is unlikely. Spring in Maine can be pretty wet, sometimes for weeks on end. This year we have had some pretty hot sunny days early in the season, including a week long stretch of 80 degree temps in March. I have no doubt that global climate change is a reality. In just the past seven years that we have been growing here we have seen some pretty distinct changes in the timing of seasonal changes.  Every year Spring comes a little earlier, and Fall stays a little later. This year I have been confused about my planting schedule due to the extreme temperature swings since March.  Should I plant the peas?  The potatoes? Is it too early for cucumbers? Zucchini? Am I late for planting my Sweet Peas? I spent three hours yesterday planting a second round of beets and carrots (the bed with the checkerboard mulch above), a bed of shell beans, the pole & bush beans, and a bed with assorted greens- chard, Dinosaur kale, radicchio and (new this year) cumin.  I was going to seed the cukes and zukes, but stopped myself.  Even though it was probably in the mid-70’s yesterday, those cucurbits like it even warmer-say in the 60’s at night- to germinate.  So while I could have planted those seeds, they would have sat miserably in the ground while we have this cool wet rain that we’re having today.

young taters

So I’ll wait another week, or more depending on the weather, before seeding those guys.  But I’m betting the beans and greens I planted yesterday are mighty happy about all this wet today. And the second round of carrots will germinate much better in the damp.  Carrots are always a challenge to keep damp enough to sprout in the Spring warmth. Our garden is down the slope from our house, far enough away that I have to remember to check on sprouters with a trip down the hill. Needless to say, it doesn’t always happen.  So I have had some bad luck with carrots.  The potatoes that were planted about ten days ago are poking up, as are some weeds… Last year out of sheer laziness we planted potatoes that we bought at a local garden center. They were not organic. They were not good. This year I went back to our usual source, Moose Tubers, and am happy to be back with our friends. We’ve got the bed netted to keep the chickens from digging up the little taterlets.  So in order to weed I’ve got to disassemble the protection.  Bit of a deterrent to the humans as well as the chickens.  When this rain stops I will climb in and weed that bed.  By then all of the potatoes should be up, and I can apply the first layer of mulch.  Vegetable garden season is here!


dinner with friends

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A couple of bottles of wine, some pink, some red.

Nettle soup, stingless.

Ottolenghi chicken with hazelnuts, honey and Orange Blossom water.

Pan roasted fennel.

Asparagus with homemade mayonnaise.

Maple Pineapple upside down cake.

A lovely Sunday late afternoon meal with good people.  The outdoor season has begun. Praise be.


dinner at Hugo’s

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Yesterday was our anniversary and we set our sights on a meal at Hugo’s with our friends Arlin, Andrew and the rest of the crew.  They bought the business from Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh just a couple of months ago.  The transition has been seamless and we are very proud to call these talented professionals our friends. Dinner was sublime.  As always.  Arlin showed us the work they have been doing to get their new venture, Eventide- a raw bar of which Portland was in great need- and we were thrilled to see what has become of our old space.  Yes, Eventide is at 86 Middle Street.  We couldn’t have picked a better business to take over our old space.  They plan to open their doors sometime in mid-June.  Keep your eyes peeled, this is sure to be the newest hot spot in Portland.


good friends

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

are a good thing to have.  This luscious loaf of Slavic style bread was gifted to us from our dear friend Anna last Saturday.  We are trying hard not to inhale it in one sitting.  As I believe I have mentioned in the past, I am not much of a bread baker.  Being a stone’s throw from Standard Baking in Portland absolved me of trying.  We are a shred further from that blessed Portland institution now, so I make sure to include a stop on Commercial street to any trip to ‘town’.  So when we get a gift like this, it is truly precious…

Bread from AnnaSamantha


Thursday, April 5th, 2012

That’s what this time of year is all about. Waiting for fresh produce to appear again at the market.  We are lucky here in Maine to have many farmers who make it a personal (and probably professional as well) mission to fight the seasons and grow as much as possible under cover.  Many of them are quite successful at it, and we thank them hardily for allowing us to eat fresh greens all Winter.  When it gets to be this time of year Spring is on the calendar, yet Mother Nature is slow to wake.  The ground is still cold and germination is tricky. This is when I really start to crave fresh vegetables. I find myself buying eggplants that I know have been trucked here from at least Florida and while they approximate the flavor of their in-season relatives, they are still a pale comparison.  Longing for the smell of fresh soil, the feeling of the sun on your back while you dig around in the garden, and the taste of the fruits of those labors.  The wait does make it all taste that much better.  I just wish it would hurry up and get here.



Monday, March 26th, 2012

Blood Orange syrup.  I loves me some bubbly water but do not appreciate the over sweetness of most commercially made sodas.  We have one of those home soda system available these days, with a charged canister that delivers the bubbles.  I have been squeezing citrus into my glass but it tends to be more watered down that I desire.  So I decided to make myself some syrup.  Basically it’s zest, juice, sugar and a little water reduced on the stove by about half. The juice/water sugar proportions are about 2:1 liquid to dry.   A good tablespoon or so gives me a delicious soda with just the right blend of bubbles and tang. Ah, refreshment!