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Rhubarb

June is a heady month.

The first greens of spring offer incredible salads. The asparagus bed is producing and the rhubarb is in overdrive.

Rhubarb is something I never tire of. Rheum, or the garden variety we know from Grandmother’s garden is a plant with many culinary and medicinal uses. Famously tart, it’s almost always used with sugar. Only the stalks are edible. It has savory applications too (think of a glaze paired with ginger, hoisin and hot honey for barbecued chicken). Or a yummy toast spread.

My favorite is a deep dish pie or crisp paired with lemon and lots of vanilla. I’ll share my recipe in this month’s seasonal recipes section.

Meanwhile , if you can’t keep up with your crop of rhubarb, it freezes beautifully. Or make a fine bouquet!

These are wonderful summer days, enjoy!

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Photo Credit Laura Cabot

We’re talking claytonia. It looks like a tiny, edible water lily with a flower in the center, a tender oval green with a long graceful stem. Also known as Miner’s Lettuce in the West, claytonia may actually be the way the West was won.
During the goldrush, native claytonia kept the miners alive at times when other food was scare and things weren’t, er, panning out. It’s absolutely loaded with Vitamin C.

We’re fortunate to have Barbara Boardman of White Duck Farm in Waldoboro active in her greenhouse planting and harvesting these delectables and others varieties of young and succulent greens. Much like a Spring hen starved for something fresh, we of Waldoboro flock to our greens “pick up station “ at a designated spot in town, tote home our bags of fresh greens and create abundant salads out of Barb’s greens.

The claytonia is my personal favorite, since it is available for the short Spring season only, and I relish it’s fresh and sprightly flavor! We like to mix it with other young and tender greens like the first kales and butter lettuces.
Pair this pretty Spring green with a creamy homemade Ranch dressing loaded with fresh dill weed.

Please check for our Ranch dressing recipe under Seasonal recipes,

Happy Eating and Happy Spring!

Food Safari Iceland

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in the land of fire and ice. It did not disappoint!

Known widely for scenes filmed in Game of Thrones, the sites were many and varied with mossy waterfalls and unique volcanic rock formations, a black beach, diamond bay ( ice floes) a unique national park, AKA UNESCO site, eroding glaciers, Arctic winds and Icelandic horses. So many activities!

Reykjavik, the capital city was warm and welcoming , even with snow flurries in April . Everyone is friendly and helpful. Sporting a vibrant art scene, it boasts a more than adequate coffee culture, and a great deal of style. Not only is everyone chic and gorgeous ( could it be the fish oil we were served at breakfast?) but the Danish influences on architecture and interiors were very clean and appealing. Reykjavik is also home to a thriving nightlife scene and a stellar music festival, Iceland Airwaves. Oh! And a punk rock museum, a phallus museum(!), a contemporary art museum featuring, among others, the work of Robert Crumb who you may remember from Zap Comics….and so much more!

Every town in Iceland has a geo thermal hot pool and we fell in love with the bathing rituals which are purely Icelandic. Even our hotel had a steaming hot pool with a sandy bottom. We craved a more natural hot spring experience and hoped for a day at the Blue Lagoon and a silica mud mask . Sadly, the erupting volcano prevented that, but a day at Sky Lagoon was lovely, if not a bit commercial.We got to experience the seven step bathing ritual from a cleansing shower to a salt scrub and steam room after a lovely hot soak and cool water mist. There was a charming small cafe associated with the spa and we enjoyed a nice lunch afterwards. There are many healthy choices here.

Speaking of which, the New Nordic Cuisine, coined by Chef Gunnar Karl seems to be resonating throughout the city with elevated fine dining available widely. Fresh fish and especially lamb are excellent. It also features Iceland’s unique Farm to Viking fare, so if you’d like to share a sheep’s head and chase that with geo- thermal baked- in -the -ground rye bread and a shot of Brennivin ( basically Aquavit) I’ll give it a try with you. We did experience the fermented shark, which tasted like stinky cheese and is basically an excuse to do a shot of Brennivin, and their wonderfully earthy lamb soup, served traditionally in a bread bowl. Don’t expect a lot of salads here in winter, an island economy is prevalent.

Dairy, meat and fish comprise the mainstays of Icelandic fare. The dairy is rich and delicious and Skyr “yoghurt” was an epiphany. It’s not really yoghurt. Turn to my seasonal recipes to see how it’s used as a savory sauce!

Book a flight, Iceland is too good to miss! June would be prefect timing, tho the Northern Lights are difficult to view after early April.

The Root Cellar

What’s in your root cellar? Possibly more important than “what’s in your wallet” as the commercial goes.

Here, I’m sharing an image of my little farmstead. The reason being that not only is it a beautiful shot of Maine in March, but perhaps you can imagine my traditional root cellar built into the basement of this old house I call home. The temperature stays at an ambient 40 degrees, much like my restaurant’s walk in. Good for roots, cabbage and wine too!

March is a key month for eating up what remains in store from the growing season. Typically, in Maine, that’s apples, potato, onions, turnip, cabbage and carrots. Add some salted or corned beef and we can see how the boiled dinner stayed a key player in late winter menus the world over. I’m thinking of the Irish corned beef and cabbage popular at St.Patrick’s Day and how appropriate that still is to a traditional Maine menu.

Let’s finish up with apple pie and celebrate the best of Maine and Ireland this St. Patrick’s Day.

February Valentines


Valentine’s day is the bright point in an otherwise grey Maine month.

While the occasional fine winter weather creates an opportunity to get outside and play, it’s easy to let thoughts of a sandy beach or exotic shores take over.

Winter is a great time to travel and dream. Or to hunker down and embrace the goodness of Maine solitude if travel isn’t in the plans. Imagine a cozy fire, dinner on a cookstove, wet mittens from a ski or a good read and beloved pet who’s happy to have you at home on a snow day!

This Valentine’s Day for me will be a homespun one…a dinner table set for two in front of the fireplace and a French farmhouse speciality simmering on the back of the stove. A chocolate dessert.

That’s how this year feels to me and I am grateful for home, hearth and companionship.

Vegan-Resolve To Eat Clean

Photo Credit Laura Cabot

What does it mean to be a Vegan? In a phrase, “a stricter vegetarian.”

There is a rainbow of variations on veganism: flexitarin, pescatarian, lacto-ovo veg, lactose free veg, ovo -veg…and these are not new ideas. Some of these date from the 6th century BC. Many believe that Jesus was vegetarian, maybe even a Vegan.

When considering a super clean and eco-responsible diet, Veganism immediately comes to mind. By omitting animals from the diet , and the violence of slaughter , animal testing and animal by-products as well as embracing a “plant forward” approach to diets and eating, the focus changes to one that supports our planet in less obvious ways. Vegan speaks to health, ethics, environmentalism and in some cases religion. As well as being kinder and gentler on the body, which is the ultimate “temple.”

In today’s world, the average chicken consumption per person is 100 pounds annually, up markedly from years past. Have you ever thought about how much water this generates the need for? In the chicken processing component alone, one of the world most precious resources is extravagantly overused. Yes it’s true that vegetables need water too, but soybeans require far less of a “footprint” than say beef, the biggest user/ polluter of them all.

“Problems are born of excess”. This is a quote from me. I firmly believer that most disease comes from too much…too much food and drink, too much cholesterol, too much protein ,alcohol, coffee, cheese, whatever… too much quantity, too much inactivity.

Veganism with its insistence on a plant based diet and healthy oils naturally tends towards the inclusion of more vitamins and minerals, fiber and healthy plant compounds.

We need our plants and trees to stay in balance on this earth, not more grazing land for McDonald’s burgers. Give me the mysterious rainforests with all their still undiscovered secrets.

Many people I talk to don’t even try to make New Year’s resolutions. The thinking is that they can’t even change themselves let alone the world. My thinking is that one by one, we can create change if we embrace it ourselves. One by one…. and the time is now.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
~ Laura Cabot

Cranberry Bogs

Move over Ocean Spray! Not all cranberries come from Cape Cod.

I was surprised to learn that Maine has it’s own century long heritage of growing and harvesting the tart fruit. A bog or marsh is a beautiful and special ecosystem, formed by glaciers and layered with gravel, sand and peat, attracting many different flora and fauna that thrive with the wetlands. Growing on trailing vines which can live up to 200 years, the garnet red berries are a favorite with deer.

Cranberries need cold and sunshine to develop their color. It’s tricky when it’s close to harvest because it’s a waiting game of developing the deep color without suffering a deep freeze, which ruins the crop. In a Maine summer such as the one we just had, the Maine cranberry crop suffered a pale outcome due to too much rain and not enough sun! A white cranberry can still taste good, but is less marketable. Hey, could that be a marketing angle?

A bog is typically about 18 inches deep and flooded just prior to harvest. Because the berry is built to float due to four air pockets internally in each tiny berry, they are easy to gather with the help of a special contraption called an “eggbeater” which loosens the berry from the vine and allows it to float to the top of the water. They’re then vacuumed up by way or a hose into trucks.

The American cranberry or Vaccinium Macrocarpon grows wild from Georgia to to the Canadian Maritimes and into parts of the midwest. In fact, Wisconsin produces more berries than any other state in America leading in world production. Massachusetts is second. Fun fact, they are sold by weight in units called “barrels” a throwback to days of yore when that was also the prime shipping method .

In Maine expect to find most bogs Downeast, comprised of 30 growers with 80 % located in Washington County. Evidently the warm days and cool nights are a perfect recipe for a very marketable crop combined with an acid soil. Maine now enjoys a multimillion dollar cranberry business. Each barrel is generally worth just under $100…although prices took a dive this season due to poor growing conditions. The buzz is that the niche market and local chefs desiring a local, sustainable and healthy ingredient may make the difference in survival of the industry. So let’s use some Maine cranberries this winter!

There are many reasons to love cranberries. Not only are they rich in fiber, but they support health in the urinary tract and immune system. They’re also very high in antioxidants. Tough to stomach raw, their sourness comes from a high tannin content so they are usually consumed sweetened.Their many uses extend to cooking, baking, smoothies and drinks, even wine.

Maine cranberries during an optimal year are the envy of growers all over the US for the deep color and the especially fine taste they offer. If you do forage and find cranberries, wash them well before eating. They are perfectly safe and healthful raw but should be taken in moderation as they can upset your stomach.

With the holidays upon us, seek out Maine-made ingredients from Maine farmers and growers. Let’s give these hard-working (cranberry) farmers a boost and be good to our bodies too!

Bight Blessing for a Happy Holiday Season, Laura Cabot

Collard Greens

Photo Credit Laura Cabot

If you tour Maine’s farm stands right about now you will find a lot of root vegetables, potatoes, onions, baked goods and donuts….but most notably BRASSICAS.

This plant genus covers all things cabbage-y from Brussel sprouts, so impressive on their thick stalks, to broccolini and broccoli , mustard greens and the many variations of cauliflower…. to my personal favorite, the Collard Greens.

I love them so much that I grow my own. Revered in the Deep South they are wonderful stewed or long cooked with onion a piece of “side meat” which is a fatty cut like bacon, or cut into a chiffonade and blanched to an emerald green. A great side for pork ribs and a nice addition to a vegetable soup.

Collards come into their own after the first frost, which sweetens and tenderizes them making them perfect November fodder. I wait until the frost subsides from the leaves and harvest them in the afternoon for the evening meal. Eating “live” food is a particular joy!

Cook up some cornbread in a spider ( a large cast iron fry pan) and serve up a mess o’ greens with beans or ribs. You will be popular. Promise!

Friendship Maine. And seasonal Maine Pears


by Robert Stafford

Photo credit: Laura Cabot


These are the Seckel pairs pickled as my Great Grandmother Ida taught me to cherish when I was a boy. She was born in 1871 and lived to 1972. They are an important part of many dinners and especially Holidays in my family. I make them as presents for my 9 brother and sisters. When I would make them with Grammy I would always tell her that I can’t wait to eat some with Thanksgiving Turkey or with a big slice of Extra sharp cheddar. She lived her whole life in Vermont so cheddar cheese was always around. She would smile and say she was glad I liked them and would always comment that after a long hard Vermont winter the jars in her pantry of seckel pears might be the only thing to get them thru the winter in the 1800s. Even today almost every farm in Vermont and infanct much of all New England had at least one seckel pear tree. My dad had two I have one. Slice a few and try them with the sharpest cheddar you can find. We eat them with beef, turkey, even salmon. Place them on a cedar wrapped salmon and cook on grill. Awesome. When the jar is empty of pairs I use the juice as a base for my bbq sauce or smoking bath/ glaze.

Heirloom Tomatoes


Stop by any farmstand in Maine in September and be prepared for a gorgeous and colorful bounty! Black Krim, German Stripe, Cherokee Purple, Yellow taxi, Brandywine, Green Zebra, Amish Paste, Ox Heart, Black Prince, Big Rainbow….these are all names of Heritage or Heirloom tomatoes.

Known to gourmands and seed savers alike, these varieties are lacking a gene favored since commercialization back in the forties that offers uniformity. Which is helpful in shipping. But heirlooms are far superior in old fashioned flavor and are just so much fun to work with! And to eat.

Nicely balanced with ample acids to offset sugars, the heirlooms’s classic tang and flavor reign supreme!