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      News — Maine

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      Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

      Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

      If your idea of a good time is sitting outside listening to the birds chirp and watching your garden grow while sipping a fruity, boozy drink then infused vodkas are for you.

      I first read about infusing vodkas in the cookbook "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson.  Her rhubarb schnapps recipe caught my eye.  Living in Maine rhubarb is one of the first things to pop up in the garden and this was a new way to preserve it.

      I've been tinkering with infused vodkas ever since.  I tend to focus on seasonal fruits but my Finnish friend told me wonderful stories about herbal infused vodkas that pair beautifully with fish.

      Perserve fresh, seasonal fruits in vodka for delightful sipping.

      You need three simple ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.

      Fruit infused vodka needs only 3 ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.

       

       Plus big glass jars.  I don't recommend plastic.  The easiest jars to repurpose usually contained a vinegar based product so wash quite a few times.  Otherwise you'll end up with this slightly vinegar note that is so disappointing.  

      It's a bit of a balancing act and a mystery how much sugar to add.  If you are super serious about the process- keep notes but remember you are working with natural ingredients and there will always be variation due to weather and growing conditions.  In general, I use more sugar because my favorite way to enjoy is to sip from a glass filled with vodka, a slice of citrus and lots and lots of ice.  I found if I skimped on the sugar it has a raw taste.  If the infusion is too sweet I can tone it down by adding seltzer, juice or water to dilute.

      Strawberry Rhubarb Liquor

      1 lb rhubarb chopped and 1 cup sugar

      1 lb strawberries  and 1/2 cup sugar

      Combine fruit and sugar in a large bowl and mix to coat fruit evenly with sugar.  Put in glass jar, fill with vodka.  Shake.  Store in cool, dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks.  Strain into a pitcher and pour into a fancy bottle.  Viola- perfect holiday gifts and what a treat it is to sip summer fruit on a snowy winter's night.

      Capture summer by infusing vodka with seasonal fruits.

      If you keep vodka and sugar on hand you are ready for whatever is in season is in season. You don't have to make big batches, have fun experimenting with flavors and combinations in small jars.  

      And finally the trash- I composed my rhubarb and strawberry bits, the strawberry baskets I'll see if my local farm can reuse them first or  compost or recycle.  The vodka bottle can be returned for my bottle deposit and the sugar bag will get recycled.  That's not to bad for waste.

      Happy infusing!  I'd love to hear about your adventures and combinations.

      Beauty Tips From Dogs

      Beauty Tips From Dogs

      Have your heard the saying, “A dog’s life’?  Originally it meant that life was darn hard.  Sleeping rough, guarding property and chasing rats.  Now days, many dogs live pretty sweet lives.  We notice so many cute dogs on our travels that we decided to ask a few to share their beauty tips.

      Tip #1  Drink Plenty of Water

      How much water a dog needs depends on size, activity level and of course the weather.  Humans are around 60% water and we lose water throughout the day.  It’s recommended you sip up to ½ a gallon a day.  Try infusing your water with fresh fruits and herbs to add a bit of beauty and hopefully you'll be drinking your daily requirement.  

      Beauty tips from dogs- drink plenty of water.

       

       

      Tip #2     Get Plenty of Sleep

      Dogs need about 12-14 hours of sleep and have the ability to sleep just about anywhere- the couch, the bed, the back seat of the car.  Humans need around 8 and we often struggle with getting enough sleep.  A bedtime routine can really help.  Our soothing “Bring on the ZZZZ’s balm can be part of your nightly routine.  Simply rub on temples and under your nose to help you take those important deep breaths.  Herbal tea and no TV are two other tips to help you get your ZZZZ’s.

       

      Tip #3   Don’t Forget to Floss

      Beauty tips from dogs- flossing is important.

      Dogs chew a lot and this chewing is good for their teeth.  Flossing helps our gums, gets rid of stuck bits of food and helps keep our breath nice and sweet.  

       

      Tip #4   Size Doesn’t Matter

      Beauty Tips from Dogs- size doesn't matter.

      Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and so do we.  Dogs don’t worry too much about their size but we sure do.  Embrace your size and find some clothes that feel good and make you look good.  For me, skinny jeans just make me feel awkward and I feel and therefore look better in boot cut jeans.  I stick with what makes me feel good.

      Tip #5  Treat Yourself to a Natural Facial 

      Beauty tips from dogs- try a facial

      Dogs love to dig and get dirty.  Sometimes we need to do the same and a facial is one way to go.  It’s an easy way to make your skin look fresh and lovely.  Remember you want natural ingredients not a bunch of chemicals.

      Tip #6  Spas are an Occasional Treat

      All our dogs hate baths but love, love, love a good soak.  You deserve an occasional soak yourself.  The benefits of a relaxing bath along with a glass of wine and a good book are many.  If you don’t have a tub or the time, treat yourself to our Shower Shots- made in jello shot molds they’re a “Happy Hour for Your Shower”.

      Tip #7 Dress Up Occasionally

      Beauty tips from a dog- dress up occasionally.

      There are a lot of fun accessories for dogs and occasionally dress up and heading out is the perfect antidote to having too much to do.    

      Tip #8  Moderation

      Beauty tips from dogs- moderation.

      Dogs love to play, play, play but then they have no problem getting their beauty rest.  It’s great to go out and have a good time but if you’ve overdone it try our Hangover Relief Smelling Salt.  Packed with essential oils that help combat headaches and nausea you’ll soon be out walking your dog.

      Life Advice From a Maine Blueberry

      Maine blueberries are extraordinary and these great qualities provide us with some valuable life advice.  

      Advice from a Maine blueberry

      Embrace Diversity- Maine blueberries are genetically diverse, a mix of colors from a medium blue to a purple almost black.  This mix makes for a rich, sweet vibrant flavor.  We need diversity in our lives.  Diversity is easy to find by mixing it up, changing some habits, taking a class, smiling at strangers, traveling or trying a new food.  If you want to try a healthy new drink check out this blog about making Kombucha.  You could even make a blueberry Kombucha.  

      Bigger is not Always Better- Maine blueberries are not big but they are mighty.  Maine blueberries can have up to 2X the nutritional benefits of cultivated berries and yet they are tiny.  So, no matter your size, shape or height- embrace and love yourself.  Learn more about finding your best self at La Dolce Vita Lifestyle.

      We’re Better in Bunches- It takes a lot of Maine blueberries to make a pie.  That’s OK because we are better in bunches.  We need each other to reach our goals.  Here’s a great blog about empowerment.

      Be a Bit Wild-  Maine blueberries are wild, they are not cultivated.  They are cared for and tended but remain wild.  Being wild is OK for us humans too.  Of course with everything moderation is the key but kick back with a Maine inspired cocktail.

      After the Wild Comes the Sweet- Maine blueberries have an intense sweet flavor.  They are perfect for pancakes, muffins, coffee cakes and pies.  Here are recipes for cooking just about anything with sweet Maine blueberries.

      Made in Maine- Maine blueberries are America’s finest.  And Maine Made, products made right here in Maine are America’s best  You’ll find a wide variety of high quality crafts at the Maine Made site.

      I hope you're inspired to live life to the fullest and to eat more blueberries.

      Living in "Heaven"- Also Known as Maine

      Living in "Heaven"- Also Known as Maine

      The beauty of earh, sea and sky in Maine.

       

      Yesterday at sunset, walking out the door of the Samoset, I overheard a little girl “from away” say to her dad, “Wow, I think I’m in heaven.”  The sun was just setting and it was gorgeous- so lovely social media posts were filled with shots of the red mingling to pink sky.  The family continued to talk about how you just don’t get views like this back home.

      They are right, there is a reason Maine is known as vacationland and I consider myself lucky to live here.  Here are my top six reasons why I love Maine.

      Beauty

      Maine is just so beautiful.  I drive to work and marvel at my views.  I have roads I love to take because of ocean, mountain, sky.  The colors in fall especially as the sun hits the tress and shimmers in lovely blue light makes me wish I was a poet.

      The Ocean

      I see the ocean everyday and make a point to appreciate the changing seasons and moods reflected in the water.  Our local dog park is water friendly and I love to end my afternoons breathing in the salt air and watching dogs swim and fetch sticks.  Going to the beach with your dog is fun, here's a list of dog friendly Maine beaches.

      Dog friendly Maine.

      Lobsters

      We’re famous for lobsters here in Maine.  Coming home from Farm Markets there is always a traffic jam in Wiscasset- people are lined up for Red’s Eats famous lobster rolls.  Then there is the boiled lobster dipped in butter, lobster mac and cheese and even lobster sausage.  The Maine Lobster Festival happens every year in Rockland and this is an opportunity to celebrate all things lobsters.

      Blueberries

      Blueberry season starts the end of July.  Maine blueberries are tiny and sweet- full of flavor.  They are harder to pick than the highbush varieties but worth the effort.  The berries are “wild” and grow by bee pollination.  Blueberry pancakes, blueberry pie and more recipes can be found at Wyman's Blueberries.

      Seaweed

      Maine is number one in the country for seaweed harvesting and the cold mineral rich waters in Maine make our seaweeds valued worldwide.  Seaweeds are divided into three categories, green like sea lettuce, reds like nori and the browns like kelp.  Adding Maine seaweeds to your diet is a great way to get trace minerals and vitamins as well as a delicious umami flavor sensation.  Visit the Maine Seaweed Council for more details on amazing Maine seaweeds.

       

      Farmer’s Markets

      We are proud to be a Maine farm.  In Maine the slogan is “Get Real-Get Maine”.  Anytime you purchase from a farm be it vegetables, value added products like jams or skincare you are helping to grow the economy and protect our fragile environment.

      Support Farmers and Farmer's Markets.

      I’m happy here in Maine- what’s great about where you live?

      Got Umami?

      Got Umami?


      There’s sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami.  Umami is the earthy robust taste sensation that became official in 2000.  Identified in 1909 by Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, the translation means roughly “delicious taste”.  It’s a meaty, savory, deep taste and when you add umami to your cooking you add a robust depth.

      Umami is the newest taste sensation.

       

      Our umami taste begins with glutamate, which is an amino acid.  Seaweeds are very high in glutamate as well as fermented sauces like soy, miso and worcestershire.  Aging also brings out umami.   Aged cheeses, cured meats including bacon and prosciutto will bring a pop of flavor to whatever you are cooking.  The cool thing is you don’t need a lot of an umami rich ingredient to add complexity to whatever you are preparing.

      Seaweeds are one of the best ways to get umami into your diet.  Maine produces all kinds of seaweeds from fresh to frozen to dried.  Maine is actually number one in the country for seaweed production and our seaweeds are valued worldwide for their quality and flavor.  It’s our cold, mineral rich waters that make our seaweeds so sought after.

      One cold July day out on Gotts Island with the wood stove going we made a soup with a base of local seaweed.  It was simple, we just put a bunch of seaweed in our stockpot and fired up the wood stove.  After a few hours, we strained the broth and added some root vegetables.  The soup was thick, rich and yummy.  Just what we needed on a cold summer day.

      If you want to try a little Umami flavor in your everyday cooking I recommend Dulse flakes.  Dulse is a slightly purple seaweed full of minerals, vitamins and those elusive trace elements.  The flakes resemble coarsely ground black pepper and you can simply sprinkle on whatever you want.  It will enhance pasta, rice and potato dishes and honestly no one will suspect you have boosted both nutrition and flavor.

      Dulse flakes resemble coarsly ground black pepper and are delicious on just about everything.


      I know this is going to sound a little radical but I love adding seaweeds, especially dulse flakes to anything I am baking but especially chocolate.  I like to make brownies from scratch but last spring after volunteering brownies for a meeting I realized I just didn’t have time.  I bought a mix and livened it up with the addition of a tablespoon of dulse flakes soaked in dark rum.  If it sounds a bit weird think of all the gourmet chocolate bars with sea salt added.  Trust me, it’s divine.  

      Seaweed adds depth to chocolate recipes.


      If you want to learn more about umami and seaweeds here are some great websites

      http://www.umamiinfo.com/

      http://www.seaweedcouncil.org