Dispatches from the Past: The more we look, the more we find! If it’s made or grown (or preferably both) here in Maine, we’re intrigued and hope you are too!‏

(Editor’s Note:

We’re making headway! The grasses are pushing impatiently and inexorably through the field grass, sward really, up in Aroostook, and we’re caught up on dispatches into March now–any day here I’ll be current, and can regale you with non-dispatch related ramblings and thoughts on local agriculture and eating.

Up here with all the snowload this winter, the spring is lagging some 7-10 days, and the riverbottom fields were mostly underwater until yesterday. Today there are huge chunks of winter ice, jumbled and dirty on potato fields, with logs strewn here and there across the orderly remnants of last year’s rows.

But the robins are fat and vocal, the bears are moving around again, and the beavers are in a frenzy of spring chores out back, so it’s coming slowly.

This dispatch originally went out March 6, 2014.

Leah)

The Big Dig 2014 continues…

1. Salad Cut Kelp
2. Lettuce Mix from Flying Pond Farm
4 . Popcorn from Green Thumb and also from Green Ledges Farm
5. Olivia’s Garden Lettuce Heads

6. Asiago from Sonnental in 5# half wheels
7. Napa cabbage!
8.  Parsnips from Goranson Farm
9 .  Coarse and/or fine rye from Aurora
10. Storage Onions available

Good Morning!

We jokingly called our freezer discovery mission here at Crown O’Maine ‘the Big Dig’. Little did we know it would last more than a week, or that we might, with a bit of sustained effort, unearth treasures of many types – not all of them frozen. If any of you are thinking of the recent news story of the frozen prehistoric virus, that’s not where I’m heading here! (It was tempting to link the themes though….)

It takes the sustained interest and enthusiasm of a single minded ologist (or many of them, in our case) to bring these foods, collectively, to your doorstep. Lucky for COM the fact that my research is privately funded (thanks, ahem, to yourselves) allows this to be an ongoing project, with a dedicated and passionate staff.

Lest my words convey that we study and collect static specimens of the cuisine of a long-dead people, allow me to supply one ologist-prefix option: terroirologist? I know, its a bit hard to say ten times fast, but terroirologist (I like ‘terr-wall-o-gist’) seems more appropriate than locavore (because you all know it’s not JUST about consuming the food). It’s not even just the thrill of the chase or the large quantities of batch-roasted on Maine wood coffee that get me up in the morning. There is a more elusive and thrilling idea I’m pursuing.

There are people, we call ourselves Mainers, who eat everyday (as most humans do), who actually still make food with their own hands from the very land they also walk upon (with any luck and presuming little snow accumulation). This food is regionalized, even within the state, cultural, on so many different levels, and (this is where it gets REALLY exciting, folks) evidence IS stacking up that there are distinct flavor profile differences among carrots from our distinct micro-climates and soil types.

Chefs, I know this comes as no surprise. Like most things ologist, there are those who are early adapters ahead of scientific evidence and then there are those who have the discipline to empirically prove things. I’m more of a sensationalist somewhere in the middle I suppose.

So while you ponder the implications of widely understood terroirology, please put your Crown O’Maine orders together. Every item on our list comes, in my mind, from a region of geographic and cultural importance.

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: Maine’s cupboards are far from bare, although a bit more room in the pantry leaves space for experimentation….‏

(Editor’s Note:

This originally went out on February 27, 2014.

Leah)

The Big Dig 2014 continues…

1. Green beans, frozen 15#
2. Sonnental Bacon & Ground Pork return
3.  Watermelon chunks for smoothies
4 . Popcorn from Green Thumb and also from Green Ledges Farm
5. Olivia’s Garden Lettuce Heads

6. Butternut Squash
7. Nelson Family Farm roasts & steaks
8.  Garlic is back in stock
9 . Chantenay carrots from Woodprairie Farm
10. Storage Onions available

Good Morning!

This week’s list is lessons in food strategy. Eating year round in Maine involves a bit of effort, and luckily our growers, by strategy or circumstance, manage to pull interesting food from the pantry just when we’d started to despair of variety. We think of an out-of-stock item as a disappointment, but every so often I’m grateful for shortages, for what they illustrate…

Here in Maine, in particular, we are fortunate to have our own salt supply from Maine Sea Salt. Each year, as awareness grows, demand threatens to outstrip supply. Each year Sharon and Steve produce a little more to meet the demand. This year their stockpile was reduced by the end of January, they shipped the last few big orders and closed shop for the month of February for a much needed break. Sea salt, as you may know, is solar-evaporated. Sharon & Steve pump seawater into greenhouses and with the help of the returning sun, have pillars of salt that dry over time, are ground, smoked, flavored, and packed.

For most modern cooks, running out of salt is simply inconceivable. For pioneers and homesteaders throughout time and across the world, salt has been key to food preservation and even survival. As we finish out the winter this month, supplies of many of our favorite Maine foods run low. Salt, and its seasonality, remind me that even with all of our efforts to create a seamless supply chain, even the most simple of foods are at their essence, products of nature, subject to the weather and the tides.

An unsalted meal humbles, reminds us of our true place in the food chain, neither at the top, or the bottom. In all our efforts we ultimately play second fiddle to the sea and the sun, the seasons, supplies.

That being said, there is plenty to chose from on the list this week…and we are not totally out of salt in all shapes, forms, and flavors.

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: Ahoy from Houlton, with yet another list of local Maine food for you!‏

(Editor’s Note:

This winter marks a new milestone for Marada and I; normally we drive through all weather conditions to our family’s house in Grand Isle whenever we go North to the County. County folks are used to driving, and if you’ve already driven 4-6 hours, depending on where you’re coming from, why wouldn’t you drive 1-2 more to sleep in your own home?

But this winter, with its cascading weekly snowstorms, and surprisingly bad road conditions, meant that Marada and I both stayed overnight in Houlton on separate trips. It’s a sure sign of weather, but also of age–we’re no longer careless enough, or care pas enough, in Valley French, to risk the horrible driving conditions.

The County plow crews are pros, and County drivers go much of the winter without their wheels touching pavement. But discretion is the better part of valor, and for the first time in our 31, and 30 years, respectively, we each paid for a hotel in Houlton on our trips North.

So, having officially turned 30 the day before this went out, I officially retired my jokes about retiring at 30, and I have no desire to prove my mettle against the storms, moose, and drifts. I’ll hunker down til the worst is past, and stay warm and relaxed while the road whites out.  Sigh. I really am getting old…

This originally went out on February 20, 2014.

Leah)

The Big Dig 2014 continues…

1. Scallops made it on the list!
2. Crabmeat is back!
3. Okay, this time spinach really is back.
4 . Stew chickens from Tide Mill Farm
5. Moodytown sausage, rack o’ribs, more!

Good Morning!

You all deserve a good newsletter, with connecting themes and entertaining links. This morning, however, finds me in Houlton, where slick roads last night pushed the pause button on my journey northwards for meetings today. Yes, Virginia, there is a north of Houlton.

While I get ready to resadddle the Volvo, I figured I’d get the availability list out the door. So no sweeping prose, leaps of local logic and such this morning. Just the delivery. That is, after all, the mission.

Here’s to well delivered, local, delicious, and sustainable food!

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: Meat of the matter, more discoveries from our stores and supplies, how do our food choices affect our friendships, anyway?‏

(Editor’s Note:

Sadly, that golden tomato vinaigrette mentioned, which was a perfect taste bud surprise–summer-in-winter–is now out until the sunshine season of fresh tomatoes. It was a great one, and I hope you got a dose of it before it was gone.

Tis’ the season for lamb, though, if you’re of a carnivorous nature. And if not, Lamb’s OTHER Lover Boxes are still available. Enjoy!

This dispatch originally went out on February 13, 2014.

Leah)

The Big Dig 2014 continues…

1. Lamb Lovers’ Box from North Star Farm
2.  Golden Tomato Vinaigrette from Jordan’s Farm
3.  Rutabaga from Green Earth Gardens
4 . 5 gallon pails of diced tomatoes (let’s talk).
5. Nelson Family Farm Roasts (request the list – many types, 1-2 of each)
6.  Lamb shanks and kabobs have returned!

Ryan and Artie, enjoying winter.

Ryan and Artie, enjoying winter.

Good Morning!

Have you ever considered whether your relationships follow your eating criteria, or vice versa? That could be taken literally, as in, “I’d never date a meat-eater,” or a bit more figuratively, “I really need to know people/foods before I want them to be fixtures in my life.” A friend of mine recently said, “It’s just so hard to eat anything now because our standards are so high.” Considering food is a chief source of conviviality and gathering, our principles around eating may have unintended social consequences
-ask my mom about our ‘Food Purist’ phases some day.

This week we have a unique new offering – a ‘Lamb Lovers’ Box from North Star Farm. It contains the centerpiece cuts for 4 meals for 2 people, and considering the price of lamb by the pound is a pretty good deal. Recipes also included. Adding the box to the list sparked my sense of linguistic adventure – don’t vegetarians love lambs, too? So to please the vegetarian and texting crowds (no need to be both) I threw on an ‘LOL Box’ – ‘Lamb’s Other Lover’…with 4 locally made vegetarian staples that even my meat loving family enjoys.

As local food becomes more popular, more widely available, more prevalent throughout our food chain, we sometimes worry whether we will lose our sense of intimacy with craft products, individual farms or producers, or even the essence of the foods themselves (when was the last time you wandered through amber waves of grain?)…

In this midwinter season, I invite you to ‘meet your meat’ by which I am refering to the ‘meat of the matter’. We are digging a bit deeper here at COM, both in our product offerings and in the shaping of our company. We’re looking at our criteria for the food we offer and eat, and how that impacts our relationships with the people who produce them, purchase them, and consume them with us. Matter, matters, it turns out.

Marada

 

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Dispatches from the Past: So many things come back in February, the sun, love, and yes, basil from Olivia’s….‏

(Editor’s note:  We’re really cruising now!  Last updated dispatch from January, and I’ve closed the gap to a few months… whew… I promise we’ll be current soon.

Enjoy the dispatch below from January 30, 2014.

Leah)

10 Things, Previously Hard-to-Get: Available NOW

1. Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings
2.  Black Bean Tempeh
3.  Tide Mill Organic Chicken and Beef
4 . Blessed Maine Herb Farm Teas
5. Nelson Stew Beef (somewhat limited)
6.  Olivias Basil Plants and Basil Tops
7.  Organic Maple Syrup
8.  Sunchokes (quite nice, very limited)
9.   Purple Majesty Potatoes
10.  Sunflower Oil

Alanna Rich of the Long Island Buying Club is rich indeed in the variety even an islander can enjoy from producers here in Maine!

Alanna Rich of the Long Island Buying Club is rich indeed in the variety even an islander can enjoy from producers here in Maine!

Good Morning!

The photo above, shared with us by Alanna Rich of Long Island, Maine, beautifully illustrates our raison d’etre. Fresh locally grown and produced food, year round in Maine.

Although getting this food to Maine islands is a particularly pleasing accomplishment for me, personally, Alanna’s midwinter array isn’t merely the work of successful food distribution. It is the steady braiding together of products, people, geography, economics, and our current reality. Like a braid, these strands are not manufactured materials to assemble in the desired fashion – they are attached to something rather special on the other end – your communities, your fields, your neighbors, your children’s dinners (even the molecular composition of these things, too – if you want to go that far)….

You can see how the braid draws in the rest of what is important to us. That’s why it’s not simply that local food is important. Food is the braid, local is the source of the strands we attempt to gather into a manageable fashion without losing personality, style, charm, vitality.

You probably saw in last week’s email I chopped off about 7 inches of red headed madness. Phew. Now my locks can be stuffed under a hat, don’t require the maintenance, rarely tangle, and (to my mind most importantly) are not a literal pain in the neck! When it comes to food (and I realize this metaphor is subliminally mixing hair and food, so you’ll have to rise above that particular subtext) we might look at it another way. Yes, our food system needs to be redesigned. Yes, our mainstream food supply is full of split ends and bad ‘do’s’. As we untangle the mess, though, (and yes, I am talking about Farm Bills, and Grange Future, and Co-ops, and investments in local agriculture -the whole shebang) we’re going to have to remember that what we chop is also connected to living organisms – and so, we must chop wisely.

I wanted to go shorter. On the haircut. Louise, for those of you who missed this fact, is a superwoman logistician. Complete with pedestrian alter ego. When she’s not routing together Maine’s far-flung places with customers statewide, she also happens to be an exceptional hairstylist, and has a fair degree of insight into chopper’s remorse. So if truck drivers can cut hair with a vision, and food can be delivered with a sense of style, so can policy can be crafted with respect to the living beings attached to its matter.

We might not love all components of this year’s farm bill, or rue that some items are still missing from our winter tables, but let’s keep at it. Alanna’s table is braided together with every item you order. So is mine, and the 200 producers we work for.

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: Last week of January, folks…who else is ready to order and say goodbye to January?‏

(Editor’s Note:  A lot of people worked hard putting together LD 1431, and lots of people turned up to offer testimony in support of the bill, from a variety of sectors of business, education, health and school nutrition, and parents. It was really an example of democracy at work in a reasonable, thoughtful manner.

Access to good, nutritious food remains one of the hardest challenges to address systemically, which is why public policy can do more than any one of us can do on our own. Schools are limited in their budgets, as are many families and seniors. If we want to get high quality food to our vulnerable populations, these types of collaborative policy making need to happen.

LD 1431 ended up passing the Maine House and Senate, with broad based support. Governor LePage ended up vetoing it, for reasons inexplicable to me. There was an effort to get the votes to override the Governor’s veto, which heartbreakingly fell two votes shy.

This bill would have incentivized school food directors to purchase local food, with no limitations on what practices are included in the definition of local. There are many, many of us working on the piece to get good food to kids, who need it for their physical and cognitive development. Countless studies have also documented the links between proper nutrition, IQ, and in fact, future economic earning power. So no matter how one feels about politics, buying local, which has an economic multiplier effect, and investing in our children’s health and future opportunities seems like an easy thing to say ‘yes’ to, even for a business-minded Governor.

I still see it as the majority of the process working the way it’s supposed to, and it really let me see for the first time, legislation drafted in cooperation with both citizens and lawmakers, instead of the shoving that seems to happen so much from both politicians and constituents these days.

A small sliver of hope in some disappointing events…

This originally went out on January 23, 2014.

Leah)

10 Things You Will Miss if Someone Else Buys them…

1. Katahdin Potatoes
2.  Blackberries, frozen
3.  Kohlrabi
4 . Parsnips
5. Maine Sea Salt (flavor/size flexibility advised)
6.  Peppermint Gelato
7.  Musque de Provence Pumpkins
8.  Bosque Pears…I cannot believe how good they still are.
9.   Lamb sausage from Crystal Spring
10.  Chioggia Beets (beets are getting scarce, folks)…

Marada testifying in Augusta in support of LD 1431, which would support getting local foods into school in a way that works for schools.

Marada testifying in Augusta in support of LD 1431, which would support getting local foods into school in a way that works for schools.

Good Morning!

A few sent in food history last week – ‘Tofu Jeff’ from Heiwa Soybeanery praised the sunchoke as the champion bottom of the barrel vegetables – maybe because in days past it was somehow less desired. These days it sells out all too quickly -mostly to restaurant tables. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of other items rapidly getting to the depths of their barrels…snatch ’em up!

What Mainer’s will do in the future to build the supply of food year round is on the minds of eaters and politicians alike. This week’s events include several legislative initiatives designed to help Maine farmers, food producers, and food processors propel our work forward. You can read one of these bills HERE. You can read my testimony HERE. This bill proposes direct support for school nutrition training and puts some money directly into the hands of the foodservice directors to purchase local food. It also suggests funding for food hub feasibility studies and implementation grants to accelerate the local food movement. Take a moment to contact your legislators about the bill – whether you support or oppose – it strengthens the depth of the discussion about our food system and what needs to happen next. Scale matters, so make your voices heard.

Our tricks to keep the bottom of the barrel exciting from years gone by is interesting to me – but not nearly as interesting as increasing the capacity (in more than barrels) to feed ourselves well, year round.

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: Fresh…even in January? With bacon and fresh spinach, why eat anywhere else?‏

(Editor’s Note:  The previous dispatch mentioned clarifications on the Whoopie Pie comments, how Marada said she should try to keep it away from our list. It did not actually go on to clarify, but let me see if I can add to it.

My mother’s whoopie pies are gleefully and schemingly anticipated by our entire family, ourselves included. She uses a recipe from an old, old Downeast cookbook she no longer needs to read, and she makes 144 at a time.

She used to bring them to family reunions every year, where my grandparents, her six siblings, and all of us assorted cousins would scarf as many of them as quickly as we could get permission. After Grandpa Simonds, aka Charles Almighty, was nearly left with no whoopie pies, and my grown aunts and uncles came downstairs literally pointing fingers and jostling elbows as they ratted each other out with exact numbers, my mother changed her tactic.

For family events she now bakes them, and freezes them on trays for each family member or unit labeled to prevent theft. This way, she says,

“You can eat them frozen, you can eat them thawed, you can eat them all and make yourself sick for all I care, but you can’t eat someone else’s.”

And peace was restored to the land.

We have nothing against whoopie pies, and in fact have a very high bar set for them, as you can tell. But apart from two heavenly autumnal whoopie pies made by Harraseekit Inn when I was a young driver, I’ve never had whoopie pies made from primarily Maine ingredients. And even those incomprehensible Harraseekit masterpieces of pumpkin, maple, and honey weren’t made from primarily Maine flour.

And as we work very hard, professionally, to find homes for Maine grown ingredients, thereby creating support for their existence and production, whoopie pies don’t get on the list yet. Maybe some day, when some inspired young cook weds two pieces of Maine’s food tradition and Maine’s agricultural history, but not yet…

Sounds like a challenge from a fable, doesn’t it?

This dispatch originally went out on January 16, 2014.

Leah)

Enjoy now.

1.Organic Kabocha in…
2.  Peeled Butternut Squash
3.  Fresh spinach
4 . Lamb sausage
5. Bacon, pork chops, ribs
6. Russian Banana Fingerlings
7.   Good price on hake…
8. Samples available of Ashley’s Vinaigrette
9.   Fennel & Mint Pesto – remember those summer flavors?
10.  Bleu Cheese Butter…

Good Morning!

Following up on mini-jacks…looks like a few of you pay attention to what Mainer’s of all eras ate for breakfast! My favorite comment on last week’s post mentioned a lumberjack camp ban on both talking and farting during meals.

So to challenge the food historians out there, send in your favorite old-time snippets of foods gone by (well, their heyday, I mean). My favorite this week? Bran muffins. Nothing inherently special to bran muffins. The whole story is much like whole bran – a bit chewy and time consuming, but generally good for you. Here’s the quick version: muffins for a meeting, original recipe of the very first Fiddler’s Green owner. I’m inspired, inclined to share this treasure. I follow directions for a change. And guess what? They’re not very sweet. Turns out, that’s the way history wants them.

I come home from the meeting with one muffin. To my 3 kids and 2 friends. Being the sweethearts they are, they share it. In return, I make another batch for them. To my astonishment, they think a bran muffin sweetened only with molasses is the perfect dessert.

So the past becomes the future. What treasures do you have for this contemplative season?

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: A clarification on whoopie pies, and yet more wonderfully good things to eat from COM…‏

(Editor’s Note:

As I sit in Grand Isle, in the actual Crown of Maine, I’m looking at Canada while I work on updating the backlog of Dispatches. It’s been quite the winter, and that’s evident up here as the peepers are only just getting started, and the potato fields in the river bottom spreads are flooded from the snowmelt that’s still easing its way sideways across fields and down the slopes of the Valley.

Marada’s note below about lumberjack camps and cooks got a plethora of responses with fascinating anecdotes, links, and historical information.

Looking at the land up here in the Valley (the St. John Valley, for downstaters) the logging history is evident, though not immediately. Eighty years ago the Valley was open, virtually horizon to horizon; fifty years before that the log corrals were still in operation on the St. John, instead of anonymous piles of rocks at regular intervals in the river.

Today we, like the entire Northeast biome, are evidence of one of the only positive reforestation rates in the world as land that was cleared for pasture and hay are regrowing and closing in fields. While this may pang a farmer’s heart, it is testament of change, and asks us to be thoughtful about our actions in our own zip code, in the face of worldwide environmental pressures.

On a more immediate level, it also means that for the first time in generations, we have the unique task of stewarding forests that didn’t exist eighty years ago, instead of existing stands. How do we do this? How do we ‘weed our trees’ as Eli Berry recently asked me?

An interesting challenge, and one that many of us are scratching our heads and grappling with. Below, Marada marvels at the logistics of feeding lumberjacks…

This was originally sent January 9, 2014.

Leah)

Under-observed Items on Our List

1. Ocean Approved Kelp
2.  Living Grains Apple Jam (the real deal, but limited!)
3.  Central Street Farm brew kits – good time of year to start one!
4 . Herbal Teas from Blessed Maine Herb Farm
5.  Pita Bread from Scratch Farm
6. Morgan’s Mills Corn Flour
7.   Maine Fresh Pies
8.  Goat, Rabbit, and Lamb Meat – change it up!
9.  Half chickens from Sunnyside – easy to cook, great for 1-3 people
10.  Muchener Bier Radish

Good Morning!

I’d best make this quick – my kids are clamoring for breakfast, lunches need to be made, the day begun (that is, the non-availability sheet making day!)….

We’ve all been saying ‘something’s got to give’ with this weather, the time of year, the inevitable breakdowns that come with extreme cold (frozen pipes, anyone?). I am definitely looking forward to next week’s promised warmer temps…but I also can’t help thinking of lumberjacks. To be more specific, the camps that were set up to feed them. Does anyone else think that whipping out pancakes for 50-100 men (hungry, grumpy, hungover, burly, I-love-moving-heavy-frozen-things-kind-of-men) seems like a rather thankless yet crucial job? Or maybe well thanked, depending on the camp and its character?

These temperatures get me thinking about the logistics of these frontier feats…how many wagons to haul in the food, how many weeks worth to haul in at a time, could we provision in this way today if we really thought about it? How many cooks to feed that many men? How many cords of wood to heat the stoves? Did they ever run out of coffee, and then what?

I’ll leave you with that thought to muse on for the day. Meanwhile, order up some COM provisions, stock your larders, ration your supplies for at least a week, and get those orders in before the oxen haul on out!

Now to feed my mini-jacks….

Marada

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Dispatches from the Past: A resolution or two? Eat more Maine food – how hard can that be?‏

(Editor’s Note: Continuing to get us caught up, this was originally sent January 2, 2014. While the Songbird Farm cornmeal, burdock root, and black radishes are out, it won’t be long until the fresh vegetables coming piling back in, and everything else listed is still in full supply.

Enjoy!

Leah)

Resolution Booster Foods

1. Thirty Acre Farm krauts
2. MOM’s Organic Munchies (healthy snacks!)
3.  Songbird Farm cornmeal
4 . Cracked Oats from Maine Grains
5. Black Radishes
6. Burdock root for detox
7.  Eggs
8.  Carrot sticks from NG
9.  Vitamin Sea Whole Dulse Leaves
10.  Salad Spinach

Truck resolutions, 2014 ...

Truck resolutions, 2014 …

Good Morning!

You don’t have to tell me what your resolutions are…but I’m sure whatever you chose can be helped along by the foods we offer. Some years ago, we resolved never to offer foods that didn’t support a healthy life. We didn’t tie a lot of strings to that; we know some of you would prefer a world without meat, others despise soy, some can’t eat wheat. Though they are the Maine state dessert, I think we all would agree that whoopie pies are a treat best left off a list like ours.

Some foods, in particular, are good at helping you keep your resolutions. Kraut and kimchi can satisfy a hunger itch that otherwise calls for carbs, fat, and salt. Cheese, veggies, and Maine apples packed alongside your lunch (make sure to take something for your way home from work!) can keep you away from the office eating blues.

This time of year, the food we eat has everything to do with how we experience the winter. As with many of my emails, I’m far from a shining example. But as my kids grow, they look a bit like string beans – and those lean little bodies turning every incoming calorie into height and fun. They want to eat ALL the time. My job (haha) is to keep the veggies in front and whoopie pies somewhere else in their Maine universe.

In case you are wondering about the links at the top of the spreadsheet this week (the ones that typically bounce you into other sections of the list) – my computer is slow as maple sap at these temperatures today and wouldn’t complete that part of the weekly updating. Instead, it offers me a chance to remind readers to DOWNLOAD THE PDF from their browser to their desktop. This will allow some of you to open the bookmarks on the left that have every category of the list neatly laid out for your jumping around enjoyment. Some browsers do not let you open the bookmarks. Then you also don’t have to dig through your inbox to find the sheet again. (You know who you are!).

Marada Cook

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Dispatches from the Past: Crown O’Maine is back! Ready for radish orders (among others)!‏

(Editor’s Note: You may not know this about Marada, but there is something  in her temperament which is in keeping with Flemish painters. She likes earthy colors and spare cool palates, and light that grants you space to think. I think, sometimes, she’d love to just live in an empty house, with nothing on the walls or floors but sun on wood and whitewash.

I say this so you truly, genuinely believe her when you read this dispatch. She is not actually pitching for the sake of sales, she really does find some relief in radishes after the rich repasts of the holidays.

We are different in this way, and others. If you know me you may have an inkling of my penchant for color–I prefer to immerse myself tactilely in discerning shades of bold color. If you’ve seen the El Camino, you’ll know what I mean …

There are some foods I do indeed term ‘martyr food’, or foods that are good for you, but you suffer for them. Radishes don’t have to be martyr food, especially with these great varieties. We shouldn’t have to suffer to eat well in my opinion.

Enjoy the dispatch, enjoy pleasures of austere space, even as we emerge from our winter cocoons. Soon we’ll be surrounded by bursting fecundity, and empty winter rooms will be a remembered dream again.

This one originally went out December 26, 2013.

Leah)

The Best of Non-Holiday Eating…

1. Winter Radishes
2. Sea Vegetables
3. Whole Grains (we’ve got lots)
4 . Roast chicken
5. Tempeh
6. Burdock root for detox
7.  Tofu
8. Root slaw
9.  Plain yogurt
10.  Salad Spinach

Winter squash, by Manon Whittlesey

Winter squash, by Manon Whittlesey

Good Morning!

I can almost hear the cringes when I write, “Let’s hear it for radish season!”. Seriously, folks, I’ve brought in a lovely mountain (okay, small hill) of them and after a week of Granma’s incomparable traditional cookies, abundant and never ending bowls of nuts, more kinds of pie than will fit in an email, a modest array of ‘okay-it’s-a-holiday’ beverages, and plenty of rich dishes of locally raised meat in one form or another – I crave the honest, everyday love of a winter radish.

Leah calls many of the items listed above ‘martyr food’. But what you know about us, after years of local food and e-missives, is that everything has its season. And if you know me at all (I’m fairly transparent) you know I’m a lover, not a fighter. Especially in the food arena. To me, martyrdom would be choosing to live without when the joys of the season (any of the seasons) abound.

If any of my relatives are reading (and I know a few of you are!) please do NOT mistake this craving of simple for a distaste for the bounty of these last 4 days…au contraire! The two combined compose our regal terroir here in Maine…the lavish, immediate, and fleeting fruit season late summer, the desire to eat small, handpicked, newly appeared green things in the spring, and almost exhausting autumn and its bushels of demanding carbs to put away (somewhere!). Then the part of winter we never favor until we are here – austere, limited, and oddly, complete. If I were stranded on an island in January with radishes in the cellar and maybe a hock of prosciutto (okay I know that’s a stretch – how about few blocks of tempeh or sharp cheese?)…the only thing I’d bug Chellie Pingree for would be access to her library.

It was indeed a simplified Christmas season for those of us in Kennebec County without power in the ice storm. No last minute run around if possible. All party plans on hold (although my gratitude to our local power company who got our street up and running on Christmas eve in time for family to come by), wrapping presents by candlelight and telling stories to the kids while piled under sleeping bags on the couch…I’ll admit I haven’t attained the sweet homestead with wood stove independence at this point in our family calendar, but I’m grateful for all we do have to celebrate, and to enjoy, one radish slice at a time, in these cold winter days.

Lucky for all of you, the Crown O’Maine warehouse is in a(n) (almost) never-fail power grid in North Vassalboro. So while we were home bound by sheer ice and falling trees, your favorite inventory items were cozy and/or contentedly rock-hard frozen (gelato lovers, fear not)!

Order up your munchener bier radish (your call on how much beer to have with it) and celebrate the simple in the New Year!

Marada Cook

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