Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beech Hill Farm, Maine




On our recent trip to Maine we stayed in Bar Harbor and visited the amazing Acadia National Park, stay tuned for future posts. We loved driving across to the other Quiet side of the Island and through Southwest Harbor. A delightful little town with an amazing bakery and cute shops. On the drive down we took a side road and saw a sign for Beech Hill Farm. As a farmer and food lover I always love visiting local farms and farm stands, seeing whats in season and local to the area and chatting to the growers. This is well worth a visit if you visit Mount Dessert Island. Its a diverse organic farm associated with College of the Atlantic and they train farmers. 

It has a wonderful farm stand with a great variety of freshly harvested vegetables, eggs, local cheese, bread and more. The young farmers are friendly and enthusiastic and happy to answer questions.

There wasn't an official tour but they are fine allowing you to wander around and look and visit the little pigs. Maine is a cold and Northern state with a fairly small growing season so greenhouse and high tunnels are used lots. 

So when you visit Maine as well as Lobster, great seafood and the famous wild blueberries enjoy fresh vegetables from its many farms.







They have 6 full time staff and such wonderfully weeded beds. 




This was such a wonderful idea. 

 oink!



Hope you enjoyed the wee virtual tour.

Hugs

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Make Elderflower Syrup



Growing up in the U.K. there are many elderflower cordials and soda's with elderflower. Its a drink I often buy when visiting. Funny when I was getting the raised beds built at the farm one of the guys sold me an elderflower bush. It grew so quickly and I happily harvested some. I then walked down the end of the field and noticed the exact same bush growing and in fact they are all over the place. So maybe you will notice them in your area too. 

A simple syrup is easy to make and its great added to soda water for a fun summer drink and to cakes.  I think it would also be great in cocktails.




Freshly Harvested Elderflower, I even had a super cute little helper. 


Ingredients:


  • 3 large bunches of elderflower 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar 
  • the juice of a lemon and the slices
Method:

  1. Add the water to a pan and bring to a light simmer
  2. add the sugar and lemon and stir for about 5 minutes until its all dissolved.
  3. let the syrup sit and cool then add the elderflowers to the top.
  4. cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. the next day sieve through a cheese cloth and add to jars. It can stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 


How will you use your syrup? 



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Strawberry Lemonade



Here's a simple drink recipe for summer I made with my eight year old. We generally don't buy soda and homemade lemonade is so easy as a refreshing treat.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tarpon Springs, Florida



Next time you visit the gulf coast of Florida make a little trip to Tarpon Springs its about 30 min north of Clearwater and its fascinating. In the late 1800's folks from Greece settled here to dive for sponges and you can still buy them today it also has one of the largest Greek populations in America. 

Its a tiny place and as you drive into the downtown area you wonder if you have come to the right place as its so sleepy and almost run down. But once you get to the main street you will find Greek restaurants, gift shops and have a feel of being in Greece listening to Greek being spoken and the fishing boats. Almost like stepping back in time.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sweet potato and Chickpea Soup.




This is a really easy and seasonal soup the base is the chick peas and sweet potato but you can add any vegetables along with it, I also added edible flowers for garnish. I have been growing these at the farm and selling to local chefs, tea rooms and bakeries. This made my Day when Camino an amazing local bakery featured me as a farmer. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kayaking with Manatees



We recently went to the gulf coast of Florida for a few days and a highlight for me was a visit to Fort De Soto Park, a lovely state park south of Saint Petersburg. It featured bike rentals and trails great beaches and Kayak rentals, in the warmer months you will have the treat of seeing manatees in the mangroves. I was thrilled its something I had always wanted to do.

Here's a little clip to introduce you to these fascinating creatures.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Arizona Inspired Bean Soup



We visited Arizona this last December on the way back from seeing family in California. I had always wanted to visit Tuscon and love that its not hot in the winter months, however it was actually quite cold and wet when we were there, I suspect spring is the best time to visit.  When we landed in Phoenix our entry point to hire a car, we visited the Heard museum cafe to sample some Native American cuisine on the advice of my sweet twitter buddy and fellow dietitian Monika of Hip Veggies. I had a Tepary bean salsa with Indian fry bread. These beans are native to the South east and have a long history they are nutritious and grow well in dry conditions. On my return I couldn't find these beans locally in North Carolina so used Northern beans. 

But often you may find old bean varieties in your area that are often overlooked here we have cow peas, october beans and pinto beans. 

Ingredients:

  • one cup of Northern beans, or any small white bean. 
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk thinly chopped
  • 2 small sweet peppers diced
  • one small tomato diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • a pinch of cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little chopped parsley 
  • 1/2 cup of corn
Method:

  1. saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil for 4-5 min.
  2. add the cumin, celery and peppers
  3. meanwhile pressure cook the beans for one whistle after an overnight soak.
  4. add the tomato and let it reduce down, then add 2 cups of water, cumin powder, sweetcorn and the beans, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 min. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.



Tuscon was beautiful and I liked the feeling that folks there were more at peace with living in the desert than Phoenix I saw less green lawns and non native trees. There was more desert landscaping and buildings that seemed to suit the surroundings. 


We stayed at Hacienda del Sol, a wonderful historic property with great staff an amazing garden complete with citrus trees and a stables. Our girl really wanted to go horse riding on the trip and this was a big factor in choosing this hotel. It was a great experience and we even got to sample some barrel cactus along the way and see a bobcat cave.




Another great tip from Monika was the Arizona Sonora Desert museum this was a beautiful drive outside of Tuscon in the middle of the desert the museum featured trails, animals and wonderful facts about life in the desert a must visit. 





I highly recommend a visit to Tuscon, we hope to return and have more time a weekend was not enough but we got a good taste for more.



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Friday, February 24, 2017

Honeybell Cupcakes



For the last few years we have bought citrus from Florida over the winter either From The Orange Shop online or Citrus Unlimited. I found out about the later from my mail man. Citrus unlimited is a family citrus farm in Florida who during the season drive a big truck to different cities in North Carolina and Virginia. The Winston salem location is very close to my house, these big boxes are great for juicing and the family is knowledgable and lovely. 
In January you can get honeybells so sweet and juicy. This cake is an ode to them.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dietitians and Agriculture experts are Strong Together.


I recently arranged a meeting for Dietitians in my city. I invited some of my favorite farmers from Five and Two Farms, a small farm extension agent and a market gardener and Horticulturist. I also invited a large scale community farmer but they declined, another said yes but couldn't make it. 
The reason I wanted this meeting was to provide an opportunity for local dietitians and agriculture experts to connect, learn, share ideas and work together. As a new farmer myself and registered dietitian I see the connections. The event was well attended and folks had a great discussion. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

First Eggs and Lessons.


It was a big day on our farm recently our hens started to lay eggs, you may recall that we got them as chicks from my daughters class and cared for them they are now 7 months old so it takes a while. It was always a standing joke to whether or not they would ever lay. The day we got our first egg we walked up to our neighbors house to share the news they are retired farmers, they smiled and looked for some white pebbles for us to put in their nesting boxes to encourage them to lay there. Our other neighbor also added some wooden eggs to them. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Oxnard, California


On our recent trip to Southern California we decided that we wanted to spend a night at the beach. We love the coast and the sunsets are great on the west coast in Winston Salem North Carolina we are about 4 hours from the coast. 

On previous visits we have visited La Jolla (wonderful by the way), Laguna beach and Malibu. I enjoyed each of these but they were quite crowded, we live in a small city with very little traffic and if you have known me for a while you may know I am now a new farmer and have a small farm in Yadkin county NC, ladybird farm. So I am hooked to the beauty and quiet of the countryside. After googling maps and beaches north of Los Angeles, Oxnard caught my eye its about a 1 1/2 - 2 hours drive north and you can take the famous pacific coast highway. It only seems to have one hotel on the beach the Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort. Its a nice resort with modern rooms and it sits right on the beach. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Chicken and Butternut Squash Lasagna.


Sometimes you feel like a change we all love lasagna and the winter squash is so good this time of year so I figured why not roast some and make a lasagna. I enjoyed this makes great leftovers and its a fun seasonal take on lasagna.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Colmar, France - Photo Series



On our summer trip to Europe we drove around Germany then to Strasbourg in France for a night and south to Basil Switzerland for a day to meet a friend. I often hop onto travel twitter chats and once Colmar was mentioned, I favored the tweet and decided if at all possible to visit. Unfortunately time was limited and traffic bad this day but we managed a quick 20-30 minute stroll. Colmar is a stunning little town in Northern France full of canals and ancient fairy tale buildings. One day we will go back and enjoy it properly but sometimes its Ok to quickly check out places when passing savor the few moments and make a plan to return. 

It was busy though and parking a challenge but if your in the area add this to you itinerary. I have a good feeling that the food is fabulous also. 



The town is famous for cookies, we of course got some to snack on. 


An otter in the river. I learnt years ago if you see a crowd looking over a bridge go and take a look. Once there was a crowd stopped on a rural bridge in Costa rica we looked down to see 7-10 huge crocodiles!







Hope you enjoyed the little snapshot into a beautiful part of the World, where have you taken a detour for recently?



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