For weeks Claire has been talking about making chicken wreaths. We love our chickens and of course wanted to spread the holiday cheer...chicken style. So I got out the sketch book and got drawing some chicken stencils. Once we had one that worked for both standing and broody (nesting) chickens Carter started cutting out the chicken wire using my stencil. The day before Carter had wander our back woods picking bags of different types of evergreen tips. Around here in Downeast Maine "tipping" for wreaths is big business this time of year. We see trucks full of tips driving to the wreath makers.
We used the different types of needles to create our feather patterns and differentiate between body, wing, and tail. After we wove in all our greenery came the fun part. Using our sewing stash of ribbons and buttons we decorated our happy chickens. Last we found little forked sticks to use for feet or created nests for the broody mamas using lichens and moss. Making chickens was way more fun then normal round wreaths, you get to give them personality and humor.
This year seems harder to navigate than last year. Don’t get me wrong, last year was rough. I was throughly sick of hearing “pivot”. At Dulse & Rugosa, we were dizzy from pivoting. However, we knew fairs and festivals were cancelled. People were comfortable shopping online. There was a lot of awareness about supporting small, indie and local businesses. This year, everything is so fluid. It’s difficult to make a realistic plan.
We were disappointed (to put it mildly) about the cancellation of the Common Ground Fair. Mid summer we sat down to make a “plan” for the coming months. We’ve all noticed the weird shortages of seemly random goods including packaging materials like boxes, glass bottles and certain ingredients. We wanted to purchase ahead of time so we wouldn’t get caught with a lot of out of stock products.
As we planned we factored in fairs. We thought about attendance, weather- the rain has been crazy here in Maine, what folks might be wanting, etc. We did a low, medium and high projection to help us decide what to order and to put a schedule together for production. In all our planning we forgot to add catastrophe.
That’s why this blog is all about ways you can help support small businesses and non profits during this time of upheaval. It’s time to actively “dollar vote”. Where you spend your money is a way to support local communities, encourage innovation, support living wages and help heal the planet. Where you shop and what you buy sends a direct message to business owners. Check out Green America for more info and a toolkit.
If you’re not a member of MOFGA now is a great time to join. Many non-profits depend on events to finance their work. This is the second year with no fair and that is a huge loss of revenue for MOFGA. MOFGA is all about helping farmers thrive, making more local, organic food available and building sustainable communities. Your membership supports all this work!
There are also ways to support small businesses without spending money. Joining mailing lists is a direct way you can help a business thrive especially as we head into the winter months. Follow your favorite businesses on social media and like, comment and share. While social media appears to be free there are many hidden costs and how posts get shown. It’s a bit like high school. Get in the habit of quickly “liking” a post or leave a comment or emoji to tell the algorithm this post is trendy. Then more people get to see it. I often think of social media as a black hole and love to meet someone who says they follow us and enjoy our posts. This gives me hope.
Leaving positive reviews really makes a difference. If you love certain products take the time to let others know by leaving a website review. Reviews on google and yelp can help new customers discover a business. Sharing products on social media is another easy way to spread some small business love. Simple acts of kindness to support small and indie businesses.
Anna Lappe wrote, “Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” At Dulse & Rugosa we want a world that is kind and focused on community and planet health. We all need to vote with our dollars whenever possible.
I am a self confessed fruit-aholic. During the summer the only reason to go to the grocery store is to buy fruit and lots and lots of it. On my day off when I used to live in California I would go buy 4 pounds of cherries and then spend the rest of the day re-reading an Agatha Christie mystery and eating my way through the bags of cherries. When summer, and more importantly fruit season rolls around, I get excited. We've spent the winter eating through our freezers of fruit and garden veg and we gotta start building it back up for the coming winter, which means u-pick farms are my happy place.
After a lot of research we found an amazing farm that had u-pick hours that were on a weekday, perfect!! At 7 in the morning the Dulse & Rugosa team (minus the dogs) piled into the car and headed off to Full Fork Farm in China, Maine. We drove the scenic (long) route and ogled gardens, rock walls, and the extent of the brown tail moth invasion.
Full Fork Farm was amazing!!!! Even on a Tuesday morning people were out picking and enjoying the bounty of spring. Most of the people picking were families, it kinda felt like the spring version of the obligatory child in the pumpkin patch instagram photo we all see popping up every fall. We were the only group that was there to seriously pick. And I do mean pick!!! We walked away with 6 flats of berries or 48 quarts. We were not joking around. Claire and Carter are great berry pickers only picking the finest ripest berries but my berry induced OCD kicked in and I had to work really hard to not pick EVERYTHING that was red. It was hard to leave those berries behind.
Each row at Full Fork Farm was a different type of strawberry. What was so amazing was the range of tastes, sizes, and shapes. We were all soo amazed at the range of taste. Each row really did taste like a totally different strawberry. Some were tart (my favorite), others were smaller with more concentrated flavor, and one type was pure strawberry sugar, most of the children were picking in that row.
It was a 90 minute drive to Full Fork Farm and of course we stopped at Cate's Family Farm for more gladiolus corms and meandered down country lanes, so it was late afternoon when we got home and the processing began. That afternoon we set up multiple work stations to prep the berries for freezer camp, so so so many berries. Once the majority of the berries were in the freezer and not covering every flat surface in the house I got to work on making a simple syrup for our herbal sodas at our coffee shop, then strawberry jam, a strawberry rhubarb crisp, and finally some roasted strawberry cheese danish. By the end of the day you would think we would be sick of strawberries but what did we have for dinner??? You guessed it......strawberries.
Strawberry Thyme Simple Syrup for Herbal Sodas
In a pot combine 1 quart of sliced strawberries with 2 cups of water, 1.5-2 cups of sugar, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. I like it on the tarter side with less sugar. Heat this on medium until the sugar melts then let it simmer stirring occasionally for 20ish minutes. Pull the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool. Using either a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth strain the pulp. I freeze the pulp (just remove the thyme) since you can use it for a delicious cake filling. Bottle your simple syrup (a mason jar works great) and put it in the fridge. To make a herbal syrup, pour roughly 1/4 cup of syrup (adjust to taste) over ice and top with sparkling water and maybe a slice of lemon. Delicious!!!
It's that time of the year. After months of just frozen ground and nothing coming from the garden we are now drowning in rhubarb. These past few weeks we have been eating, canning, and freezing rhubarb like crazy. I used to make the same few rhubarb dishes every year which meant pretty quickly I got sick of rhubarb. This year I vowed to change it up. I scoured the internet for new and different ways of using rhubarb, not just the same old pie and crisps. I wanted savory meals and different desserts.
First up is my new favorite savory rhubarb dish. This is based off of a Martha Stewart recipe I found which I changed up and adapted to what was in my fridge. I tuned her Pan Roasted Chicken and Rhubarb into Turkey Meatballs with Rhubarb and Leftover Fridge Vegetable Curry. As with all my recipes I just eyeball everything and change according to what I have (the grocery store is a long drive away.) Bonus: the meatballs use an egg and when you've got chickens springtime means everything you cook has to have eggs in it!!
Turkey Meatballs with Rhubarb and Leftover Fridge Veg Curry
I don't have any pictures cause every time I made it we were too excited to start eating to snap a photo. Trust me it is delicious and beautiful.
Makes dinner and lunch leftovers for 2-3
Meatballs (make these to taste and adjust the spices accordingly
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 egg
- Garlic to taste
- Any blend of the following spices: Curry Powder, Gram Masala, Turmeric, Cumin, Cayenne
Mix everything but the panko together. Add in enough panko so that the mixture sticks together to form 2 inch balls. Pan sear the meatballs on all sides. Put the meatballs to the side and use the same pan to start your curry. One pan all the way!!!
Rhubarb and Fridge Curry
- Diced onion
- Garlic to taste
- 2 cups Rhubarb diced into 1-2 inch pieces
- Any blend of the following spices: Mustard Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Curry Powder, Gram Masala, Turmeric, Cumin, Cayenne
- Fresh ginger to taste
- Fridge Vegetables, use what you got: peppers, summer squash, kale, spinach, carrots, eggplant (you could also use freezer veggies, just use what you got and veggie it up!)
- Water and/or veggie broth enough to reach the consistency you like for curry
Use the grease in the pan from the meatballs and lightly toast your spices, add in your onions and garlic. Cook til translucent and add in your rhubarb and some liquid. Cook the rhubarb until it starts to get tender and then add in your other veggies, fresh ginger, and the meatballs. Serve when the rhubarb is fork tender. The first time I made this I cooked it too long and the rhubarb melded into the sauce it was totally delicious but I like it better when the rhubarb stays together or even has a little bit of texture.
Accoutrements to make it extra YUMMY and stretch it even more for lunch
- Rice, Couscous or whatever you got
- Pita, naan or tortillas To make them really pop, toast them lightly then brush on a little bit of olive oil or butter and sprinkle with Za'tar spice
- Lime Pickles
- Green Onions or chives
Next up on the rhubarb train is Rhubarb Sorbet and Rhubarb Popsicles. These are crazy easy. Take some rhubarb add sugar and a little water and whatever spices or herbs you want and cook until the rhubarb is tender and falls apart. I used fresh ginger and mint. For the sorbet let that cool and then pour into an ice cream maker and follow the directions, remove the spices or herbs if you used them. For popsciles pour your mixture through cheescloth or a fine mesh strainer, to strain out the rhubarb pulp and any herbs or spices, and then freeze in your popscile molds. These have been especially nice right now as we are in a very unseasonal heat wave. 90 in June!!!! It's Crazy. These were the perfect treat after a day spent digging in the garden.
Finally it's not rhubarb without a pie so here is a slightly different and totally delicious one: Rhubarb Custard Pie. Super, super easy and wicked tasty.
First off make your favorite pie crust. I love King Arthur's All Butter Pie Crust. I found that keeping a stick or two of butter in the freezer worked great for making pie crusts.
3 cups rhubarb (I usually use more than that)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
large pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions: Press your pie crust into your pie plate and then dump in your chopped rhubarb. Mix everything else together and then pour the custard over the rhubarb. Put into a preheated 375 oven for 40-50 minutes or sometimes an hour. Cool the pie completely and then dig in. It is soooo good!!
If you have any other great rhubarb recipes let us know. I am always searching for more.