Duendesday: pre-teen and 8th grade!

{life with a curious and crazy almost 13 yr old}

And so the time has come to say goodbye to ‘child’hood and enter ‘teen’hood for this gal. I’m sad but excited, she’s sad but excited, Josh is scared but excited (ha!). She’s so tall and friendly people expect her to be older but she still has this great sense of sweet youth and wonder. She loves to dance, sing, draw, swim, bake, and make crazy.

Right now, she is mowing the lawn on the rider mower (I think she likes driving all around, even if it does mean it’s technically ‘work’) and tonight she has her school assessment (8th grade! Yes, She passed!!!). I think she is ready, perhaps not as ready as we would like her to be, but she learns in ways we are not used to – different from us in our studious and academic ways. We are readers (practically from birth, maybe as some escape – but it is a love of reading), we are thinkers, we are expressers – she is a doer. She’s not a concentrator of big thoughts, she’s a mover and a shaker. Life’s a party, and we are in the way!

We’ve got some birthday plans coming up – likely a sushi dinner, a game night with folks, a day at the OOB boardwalk, and a camping trip. She’s already requested Djej Emshmel (Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons) for camping – could you imagine as a kid requesting something so exotic for a family camping trip? Not that we ever went family camping as kids or made specific requests of our parents, it’s a different world. Her plans tonight after her (favorable) assessment is some mending on a hand-me-down cardigan and one of J’s aprons.

We wouldn’t have her any other way.

Spring Tuesday ‘Round Here

Scene One: The Eastern Phoebe family on the back of the garage is growing nicely – a little pile of chicks stacked up waiting for their flycatching parent to bring them bits. Simultaneously the Dragonflies have hatched and they work hard like aerial acrobats saving us from being devoured by mosquitos (ok, I just like to think they are working for us – it seems like a public service) – they are Josh’s favorite to watch swooping above us. And then the bats come out and do large circuits of the lower yard.

Scene Two: I’m watching the baker make bagels. It’s not something I see very often because he normally does it at 5am, but with the holiday our schedule is pushed a bit. I watched him make the dough, rest the dough, and shape the dough the night before – little lifesavers ferment in the freezer on trays overnight. The next morning he pulls them off and chucks them into boiling water and fishes them out with a big spoon strainer. While they are still wet he shakes their preferred toppings on, lets them rest a moment, flips them (it’s his secret so the toppings adhere better), and then puts them on a piece of parchment paper over a semolina dusted peel. He then shakes the whole thing into the oven and reaches deep onto the hot baking stones to arrange them to his liking. They bake, then rest on a rack, and then call to me – I love a fresh bagel. Another J came by and we discussed the merits of crunch versus chew…deep topics of bagelness.

Scene Three: Walking along the path above the river, we watch a pair of Great Blue Herons flirt. They don’t like me watching so they move behind tall weeds. An Osprey hovers above the Kennebec and we hope to see him catch a fish but he doesn’t find anyone to eat right now. We talk to the marvelous mushroom people, the friendly meat guy, our CSA guru, the cheese goddess – it’s a lovely market with a lot to offer.

Scene Four: The Peach and Me (wo)man the store while J does the Portland delivery. She bakes my favorite Rhubarb Tea Cake, we play a bit of boggle, and interact with lovely members and various customers. After our excitment the other day with a visit from the very friendly Gardiner Fire Department (no fire, just a sensitive gas alarm), we’re looking forward to a quiet week before we have a plethora of Summer events at the store. New goods (hint – starts with c and is good enough for me!), new books, and poetry readings! Fun things to look forward to.

A Muse for a Monday


Ancient Hawaiians had a sport they called lele kawa, in which they dived off cliffs into the ocean. Pu’u Keka’a, a tall volcanic cinder cone in West Maui, was a perfect place from which to jump, but everyone avoided it.

Legend held it was a taboo place: “the leaping place of the soul,” where the souls of the recently dead left the earth and ascended into the spirit world.

But that all changed one day in the eighteenth century when a great warrior, King Kahekili II, climbed to the top of Pu’u Keka’a and plunged into the sea, shattering the taboo and mutating the myth. Since then, hundreds of other divers have tried it.

Is there a comparable shift in the way things have always been done in your sphere? Either in your personal life or in the collective life you share with others? And are you ready to shatter a taboo and mutate a myth?

Recipe Thursday: Spring Lamb & Olive Stew

It’s been a swing of a Spring so far – starting in classic fashion of snow but then a week later 70 degrees F! Many weeks of sunny and warm days, with some typical April and May rainy days in there, fooled us into thinking we were well on our way to Summer when last minute we get a crazy frost! Fortunately the apple trees were strong and it seems they did not lose their blossoms (that could have been catastrophic for many, and certainly plan changing for us as we are dreaming of a Harvest Party for cider this year). But the chill put us in the mood for a surprise Spring stew.

Dinners have been mostly easy meals during the work week (which for many of you is likely the weekend) and a little more flair on days off. What does easy look like for us? We have a couple of staples – Nachos Grande and Pizza always make the rounds, pasta or a stir fry other nights, sometimes we’ll whip up a Shakshuka or just bake wings and oven fries.

This past week though we asked D to pull out a couple of lamb steaks and we figured we’d slice up some potatoes and cook down some greens (I like food directionals – up, down, over…ha!). I can’t stress enough how important clean meat is and knowing where your meat comes from is great – this lamb was graciously bartered for bread from the lovely folks at Morton Brook Ranch in Pittston. But when we got home she had pulled lamb shanks – what to do, what to do, I thought ‘there’s no way shanks will cook anytime soon’. So, I consulted my meat expert, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his big River Cottage Meat Book (so handy! as is the Veg/More Veg, the Family Cookbook, and River Cottage Every Day). His recipe Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks set me on the right path, though I didn’t make this, I now had the fundamentals to work with, thanks Hugh! It wasn’t fast but it was easy and we had a little time (takes 2.5 hours to cook, but really only 15 minutes to prepare).

We had leftovers and bulked it back up by removing any leftover shanks and picking the meat off and into the pot, and just throwing in a bunch of chopped Rainbow Swiss Chard and a few more olives, can add a little more broth if needed.

Spring Lamb & Olive Stew
Serves 4, very comfortably

4 Lamb shanks, salt and peppered lightly
4-6 small to med Carrots, cut into 2″ chunks
4-6 med to large Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 2″ chunks
2 small to med Onion, quartered (or 2 med leeks, chopped large)
1 med to large celery stalk, cut into 2″ chunks
a few sprigs of Thyme
a couple of Bay Leaves
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28oz (Large) can of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (or a couple of whole fresh or from the freezer, or canned whole, or a plethora of cherry, etc – whatever you have that equals about 2 cups of tomatoes)
1-2 Tbsp Tomato Paste (whoever invented tomato paste in a squeeze tube is my hero)
2 cups of Beef Broth (or 1 cup of Broth, 1 cup of Wine – red or white, your choice)
1 Quart (about 2 cups) of Fresh Mushrooms (we had a mix of chestnut and oyster), cut into 2″ chunks, if necessary (if using button or cremini, just halve or quarter if large)
5-6oz mixed Greek Olives (pitted or unpitted, up to you, ours are generally unpitted – we just remove the pits as we eat)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Handful of Fresh Parsley, chopped coarsely
Crusty Sourdough Bread (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a heavy-bottom oven safe pan (with a lid), heat the Olive Oil on the stovetop on Medium-Medium High. Brown Shanks on all sides, when turning for the last time, throw in Carrots and Onions and let brown with Lamb for a few minutes. Add Celery, Garlic, Herbs, Potatoes, and cook another minute or two stirring everyone together.

Add Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, Broth and/or Wine, and bring to a Simmer.

Stir in Mushrooms and Olives, put the lid on and put in the oven.

Turn down the oven to 250 degrees F, and cook for 2.5 hours or until meat is tender on the bone.

Taste for Seasoning and add chopped Parsley for garnish (and overlooked nutrition-Parsley is a wonderfood!). Serve with crusty bread!

Tuesday Happenings: Living the Life

Some mornings the landscapers at the neighbors get us up early (and I thought our lovely neighbors liked us! ha!), and there are many spiders in the bathroom, and I find a tick attached to both me and the dog (not the same tick, at the same time, mind you), and the breads don’t come out as nice as expected. This all happens. However, there are also times when D makes me lovely chocolate-chip cupcakes (these ones for Mother’s Day, and her best yet!), when all the trees and flowers are in bloom and full of perfume, birds are singing, and the breads are beautiful. This all happens, too.

I definitely prefer the latter to the former. I prefer to forage around my yard in ignorant bliss, covered in tick spray, with an elderflower or bergamot cocktail. Josh helped me finally plant my gladiolus bulbs but we’ve done nothing to the gardens yet. My beans want in desperately (I think I’ve missed my pea window). I ‘potted up’ some dahlias yesterday and the seed trays of peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes (oh lovely nightshades) are doing well. I’ve a couple of trays of companion plants and flowers, too – marigolds, nasturtium, celosia (for the bees), zinnia, bachelor buttons, drumstick flowers, pansies, calendula, etc. I would still like to get some more herbs and flowers in but we shall see.

Meanwhile, back at the shop – folks are finding us, despite still not having ‘real signage’ (oh, the start-up hump is hard to get over), and joining the membership which is excellent. It is a whole new way to think about local economy, as honestly – more ecological as it is all about our relations to one another and the kind of world we want to live in. It’s a learning curve for many (and for us!) but people are responding kindly and enthusiastically – we might have to have a waitlist soon! Community commitment is encouraging.

We’re looking forward to a Late Art Nite this Friday – fresh bready treats, conversations about art and books, a town open for art wanderings, should be lovely and we hope to see you!

Recipe Thursday: Forager’s Pesto

How can you go wrong with pesto? It is one of my favorite things to make because I can make it with such a variety of things. Any kind of green, any kind of seed or nut, any kind of oil, you can add cheese or don’t add cheese, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon and then use it on all kinds of stuff! Pizza, pasta, bread (alright, I might be a little wheat-based), roasted veg of almost any kind, rice, fish, a spoon (why not – it has all the stuffs, sounds like a spicy snack to me!).

And right now, the world is proliferating with free vegetation – dandelion greens, violet leaves, bee balm and daisy shoots, and ramps! (if you are even more industrious than me, I’m sure you could find plenty of clover, plantain, cleavers, young evening primrose leaves to make a batch as well, perhaps you have other favorites?). Last week we layered our mushroom pizza (from Wild Fruitings in Augusta – soon to be in our shop!) with young dandelion greens and I know I’ll be putting together a fresh new batch of Foraged Kimchi for all your detox needs.

Though our batch of ramps (which we seeded from Forager’s Harvest of Sam & Melissa Thayer) is looking good, we still want to give them one more year of spread and growth before we harvest any leaves (maybe a few bulbs). And lucky for us, one of our lovely customers brought in a generous collection of large ramp leaves – oh, they smelled so good (thank you so so much!). We promptly took them home and turned them into Ramp Pesto. I had pumpkin seeds, parmesan, and garlic olive oil on hand so in they went. We had it with pasta and a sexy tuna steak. Our friend Kelby turns his into his silvopastured pork sausage so tonite we might have a little more pesto with his Wild Ramp Sausage (find him at Olde Haven Farm in Chelsea – go check out the farm store, it’s awesome).

Though my basic recipe is the same for all pesto: toasted nuts or seeds of your choice (I’ve used pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts – of course, pistachio, hazelnuts, I don’t see why you couldn’t use walnut though we don’t eat them here because they irritate J’s mouth though I might shy away from pecan or macadamia as they are very sweet), handful of green things (you could also use lacinato or baby kale, spinach, basil – classic, arugula – peppery!) (and by mid-Summer amaranth leaves, chickweed, garlic mustard, nettles – wear gloves!), garlic if not using garlic greens/scapes/ramps, etc, oil of choice – avocado or olive oil might be the best options, lemon juice, sea salt, and a dry cheese of choice (optional) though I generally use parmesan (grated or shredded fresh). It is fresh and fine without cheese, but I’m a hedonist, cheese it is.

My ratios are eye-balled. For a small batch I probably start with 2 cups of loosely chopped greens. I like probably twice as many greens to seed/nuts, enough oil to keep it a bit loose, just enough lemon juice and salt to flavor and brighten it, and probably the same amount of cheese to seed/nuts but you may find that you can adjust all of this to your tastes. I also recommend toasting the seed/nuts first and pureeing in small food processor (but pulse, you don’t need nut butter!), then adding cut up leaves of choice – add a little oil to loosen and make puree easier until all leaves are broken down, adding a little lemon and more oil if you need more liquid, add cheese if using – then taste, then add more salt or lemon or olive oil if needed.

If tossing onto pasta, remember to keep a little of the pasta water in the pan to loosen the pesto and make it a little ‘saucy’. I probably use a 1/4 cup on a pound of pasta (yes, hedonist) and mix it thoroughly but gently. Refrigerate the rest and use within a week or so.

Happy Pesto-ing!

Monday’s Muse

To be honest, all the inspiration right now comes from the idea of new growth, new beginnings, new possibilities – the soft greenness of fresh leaves, the perfume of a first open flower, the sound of peepers and chattering finch, the buzz of the bumble, a warm spring breeze and a cool night, damp earth under my nails, and familiar faces – cleavers, violets, wild strawberry, ramps, and phoebe. New rituals, new songs, new ideas to share, new plans to make. New paths to clear, new angles to discover, new thoughts…

Tuesday Happenings & Events

Rainy Rain Rain. We need it though, not enough snow this Winter. The apple trees will be in drought again this year, poor little things. They’ve suffered so the last fews years with less and less water and more and more predators, some saplings are dwindling and others are pushing through – it’s definitely a ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of orchard these days. Meanwhile, the pears and plums are strong and lovely (reminder for next year – more pear and plum trees). We put in a couple more elderberry to try and build our bush (for such a thriving creature, it does not want to thrive for us, we’ve moved the bush around a couple of places with no luck). So, rain. We need it. I’m leaning in to the romanticism of it, listening to lovely jazz and neo-soul ladies at the shop.

Speaking of the shop, this Thursday, April 27th, we’re hosting some amazing local poets – Meghan Sterling, Robert Carr, & Audrey Gidman will be here for a marvelous reading. I’m excited as they are all sensuous writers. A nice bread board will be available, as well.

And then, this weekend, come on down to decorate up some rousing posters for International Worker’s Day on May 1st, also Mid-Spring (Happy Beltane!), because – honestly, many worker’s rights are still not being met or honored, here or abroad. Come voice your concern – we’ll decorate the windows with the posters on Monday! (and all our coffee, by the cup or whole bean bag, will be 10% off – of which, all of ours is organic and Fair-Trade). All books for the seasonal festival are also 10% off May 1st (keepin’ it witchy).

After that, on May 4th, (may the fourth be with you) we will have local Maine author and genealogy historian Michelle E. Shores come for a reading from her book The Gathering Room: A Tale of Nelly Butler. Giving new life to an old Maine folktale, Shores unwinds a story like a warm rich ball of wool. Come and sit on the edge of your seat for a romantic ghost story. Refreshments will be served.

May 6th (10-5) & 7th (11-4), the Maine Pottery Tour opens studio doors across the state, including our friend and partner from The Potter’s Shed at 605 Hallowell-Litchfield Rd. Go see what they are up to – Todd is a skilled potter with a great earthy sense, or catch their goods at the shop.

We are also happy to announce a new partnership with the Wabanaki Mobile Food Pantry has begun. It was hard to find the ability to share excess and donated bread with families in need directly and this amazing program makes that happen. They pick up fresh food from all over the state to then drive it to Wabanaki communities (again, all over the state) to make sure that people are getting healthy nutritiously viable food in their homes. We are over the moon to be able to be a part of this program as it fulfills our mission to also make sure that real people are getting real food (it shouldn’t be that hard) and I think this program is a great model. We are working on getting an option to donate monetary shares, as well, keep your eye out.

With rain, comes flowers and new growth.

Monday’s Muse


Finally after half a century, a clearly observable law has been found:
For mankind, all matters proceed
Along geometric lines

(If you put one grain of rice on the first intersection of a game board, two grains of rice on the second, four grains of rice on the third, and continue along these lines, what vast quantities will you have by the time the board is covered? When the ancient king was told the answer, how surprised he was . . . )

By the time I realized what was happening, I was clinging to the earth
So I would not be shaken off as it spun with ever greater speed
My hair, dyed in two parts with night and day, had come loose
(Yet still I toyed with dice in one hand)

As it turns, it is stripped page by page like a calendar pad growing thin
A cabbage growing small, shorn of leaves before our eyes
Once, this planet had plenty of moisture
(But that was in the days when those things that now belong to dead languages –
Things such as dawn, looks, and smiles – were still portents of things to come)
That’s right, for mankind, all matters proceed along geometric lines

Four and a half more centuries into the future
The shriveled brain that revolves
Rattling in the cranium’s hollow will grow still
Like the pale eye of a hurricane

All will see its resolution in those moments
As the rolling dice tumble, turning up their black eyes
Then finally coming to a halt