Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Sweet Sunday in March

The 4th Sunday of March in Maine is celebrated as Maine Maple Sunday. The local sugar houses open their doors and many serve a pancake breakfast al fresco in the brisk early spring temperatures. What is it about fresh air that makes even the most simple food taste so good? Of course, fresh maple syrup on pancakes and bacon is heavenly anyway.

 The particular farm we normally go to, Coopers, here in Windham raises miniature horses. Those are as much a hit with the kids as they are with Joe and myself.

 They also have cows and an ostrich named Clyde, peacocks, a blue eared pheasant, and chickens. All in all it's a great way to spend a chilly morning - some fresh air, great food, a little mud, and some animals. It's a win win in our book.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On the cusp of spring

While it is technically now spring winter is giving us one, hopefully final blow. A dusting of snow fell on Saturday and then another 2 inches on Monday. It was just enough to make the muddied ground look fresh but I am ready for the mud and brown that comes before the flowers poke their leaves from the ground. Snow is beautiful...in January but this is March. I am over it.

While we are back inside for the time being I am spending time researching local CSAs (community supported agriculture). Last summer we bought a half share from Little Ridge Farm that is near where my husband works. I never went to the farm. He would simply come home with the boxes of produce on Friday evenings. It was a little like a foodie Christmas every Friday.

This summer we are doing the same half share from that farm but also buying a credit from another farm, Rippling Waters. I want to take the kids. I want them to see where our food comes from and who grows it. I would like them to have a respect for the food they eat that I think can only come from either growing it ourselves or through a CSA. I enjoy playing in my gardens and growing flowers but I think it is best that I leave growing the vegetables to the experts or we could all come down with a mean case of scurvy and that's not really what we're aiming for.

The CSA near my husband's work is one where I take what I get every week. The second one we have signed up for I can go and shop at their farm stand and supplement what comes from the other CSA or what we simply want more of.

We also are looking into locally raised organic pork. Last year we purchased a quarter cow from a Sebago Lake Ranch and have been very pleased with the cost, quality, and taste. It was our first foray into bulk meat and it has been a great experience. While not certified organic it is grass fed and hormone and antibiotic free, which were my main concerns.

Why buy your vegetables from a CSA? There are so many reason and here are some that I feel strongly about, in no particular order.

  • the food is grown locally which means it is fresher when I get it and doesn't need to be trucked across the country creating all the pollution that comes with the transportation.
  • we are supporting local farmers.
  • organic vegetables. While not all CSA farms are not certified organic the ones we are using are.
  • as I stated above, we can all get a great appreciation and respect for the food we eat and the people who grow it. 
And the cherry on top is that the farm stand is near a river where I can take the kids swimming and have picnic lunches on lazy summer afternoons...which on a snowy Tuesday in March I am really looking forward to.

So, this is what I have been spending my time doing while Mother Nature throws one last bit of winter our way. I have been cozy on the couch by the wood stove dreaming of children running barefoot through the grass and swimming in warm summer rivers and the fresh foods I can prepare for us all summer long.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mud, Glorious Mud

Spring is slowly but surely arriving here in Maine. Mud season is upon us. Today's sun and warm temperatures were reason enough to get out and go for a walk with Kate and Maggie.

While we puttered along down the road I remembered to breathe deep - to exhale some of the cobwebs from my lungs and to inhale some of the cool, clear air. After months of being cooped up inside it felt so good to be out.

There is still plenty of snow to be had and we have weeks of melting left before we find grass and forest floor but the promise of it is all around. Before we know it the peepers will be serenading us from the vernal pools.

Kate especially liked the puddles. Of course she did. What else is better to a 2 year old? Fresh air, sunshine and kids = the perfect combination. Free to explore. No schedule to follow. Simply time to enjoy being two.

Then it was home for grilled cheese and cocoa before stories and nap. It's not a bad life. Not one bit.
Today we read Mud by Mary Lyn Rae before naptime as one of our choices.