A Maine Thanksgiving Tradition

Wondering where to get ingredients (I’m talking everything from brussels sprouts to maple syrup, flour to turkey) locally? If you live near Portland, Maine this article I did recently for my Portland Press Herald blog “The Root” should help you out. ox

Sausage and Kale Stew with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

I found this recipe in the November 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine (I really should pick it up more, every time I do there are always a couple good recipes). Hands-on time is minimal – about 20 minutes. *I was unable to remove the casings so rather than break up the sausage I just cut it into slender pieces. Also, I left out the milk (it had gone bad – ice) so my potatoes were not as smooth and creamy – next time! The leftovers were delicious the next day. Great comfort meal this time of year! I

Sausage and Kale Stew with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from Real Simple
1 lb sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and broken into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 lb)
1 small bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

Combine the sausage, onion, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, garlic, 1 cup water, and 3/4 tsp each salt and pepper in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Nestle the potatoes in the liquid and top with the kale.

Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl. Add the milk, oil, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper to the bowl and mash.

Serve the stew topped with the mashed potatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Photo Real Simple.

Gummi Bears

Completely and utterly random, but since I tend to be getting here once every week or two I want to get it all in. If you are a regular reader of this blog you might know of my odd love for Gummi Bears. Yes, the gal who likes real food is a not so secret consumer of those rainbow-colored, fruit-flavored, teddy bear-shaped sweets. I’ve always liked them, but it was when I was studying in Strasbourg, France (an area heavily influenced by nearby Germany) that I remember something as simple as sitting with my best friend (also an SK) and my dad right over the border in Germany and enjoying some made near there.

Hans Riegel, whose father started (and family still owns) Haribo, the maker of said candy, recently passed away. It was Riegel, who I learned from his NYT obituary, brought the candy over to America from Germany and expanded their line to include what I consider a variety of disgusting spin-offs (Haribo Fizzy Cola – ewe). Here’s what might surprise you – he was a bit of a real life Willy Wonka inviting kids to the company’s headquarters every October and reading the same material children read so he would be informed about his primary customers. One could see this any number of positive or supremely negative ways. I’m choosing to see it in the former, as a person who was a smart marketer and sincerely wanted children to enjoy a sugary treat. Perhaps if I thought more of today’s executives peddling the same type of item actually cared I would not be so negative about the marketing side (which I see as a bunch of stereotypical suits preying on youth), but alas Mr. Riegel was old school.

Theme Nights

Got this one from Whole Foods Market’s magazine…can you tell I’ve been clipping articles, they’ve been piling up…

For beating boredom – a few themes I agree with 100% whether single, couple, or a family:

Pasta for the People: Kids choose pasta shape, cheese and add-ins for a pasta meal

Pie Night: Pizza pies, pot pies and hand pies…not to mention tarts and quiches. I love this one – had the most fun during a recent weekend in Vermont making  pies. You can have so much fun with the topping choices!

Search & Rescue Supper: Make dinner from the lost items in the back of your fridge and pantry. Who couldn’t use this once a month!?!

Around the World Around the Table: Pick a country and focus your meal on its native cuisine. I know just what I’m doing with that recent cookbook I picked up on Syrian cooking from Rabelais Books! Oh, and then there’s the one on Uganda!

Breakfast for Dinner: Flip-flop the schedule and enjoy traditional morning fare in the evening. Do this once a week. Pancakes for dinner anyone??

Maine Potato Harvest

I traveled north again to Aroostook County a couple weeks ago to cover Maine’s potato harvest. Tate McPherson again proved himself an excellent host/guide to the state’s northern most county. My favorite quote from the visit what when we were talking about the County and people’s perception (misconception) that everyone is a hillbilly (they are NOT) he said “Field roads run through our blood.” Proud, straightforward that pretty much sums up the hard working folks I’ve met there. Looking forward to return trips for some delicious stories.

**Be sure to check out Felicia Buck’s family recipes for Cinnamon Buns (served during her family’s potato harvest coffee break) and Chicken Casserole here.

American Cheese Month

I’ve been writing about Maine cheese makers over on my PPH blog The Root w/ my friend Shannon who is a cheese pro. Here’s the one on Spring Day Creamery and here to Hahn’s End. Personally, I’m most excited about the third one we have coming up….ox

Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Apple Pie

This weekend needed some feel-good baking and Marion Cunningham’s recipes have yet to let me down in that department. Pie has always been one of my comfort foods and I have apples to use up from my share in Super Chilly Farm’s Maine Heritage Apple CSA, so apple pie it was. Cunningham recommends this pie with a small piece of Cheddar cheese and a cup of hot coffee for breakfast. That sounds good, but even better – some vanilla frozen yogurt (or ice cream). So yummy, and bonus you have all those cornflakes left over for breakfast or snacking. Enjoy! ox

Breakfast Apple Pie from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book

1 cup cornflakes
One unbaked 8- or 9-inch pie shell (homemade or store bought)
5 large, tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into tenths
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
7 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450.

Sprinkle the cornflakes evenly over the pie shell. Toss the apple slices, sugar, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl until all the apple slices are coated. Spread the apple mixture over the pie shell.

Make the topping. Put the flour, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles irregular bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the apple slices.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 450, then reduce the heat to 350 and continue to bake for about 35 minutes, or until the apples are tender and bubbling. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 servings

The Maine Heritage Orchard

Yesterday, I had the extremely good fortune to attend a lunch at John Bunker and his partner Cammy Watts’ home/farm in Waldo County to learn more about the Maine Heritage Orchard. Working with friends and savvy business owners in Maine and Vermont (yes, folks our passionate neighbors from the west are kicking in) I hope to help raise funds for this project. (p.s. I’ve been a member of John and Cammy’s Out on a Limb Heritage Apple CSA for three or four years, it’s fantastic! I’ll be writing more about it this year.)

Following is information on John and the orchard.

For decades, John’s passion has been tracking down heirloom apples and pears, particularly those originating in Maine.  He coordinates nursery sales for Fedco, the co-op seed and nursery company in Clinton. Articles about John and his work have appeared in Down East, The Atlantic, Martha Stewart Living, and, most recently, Mother Jones.   He speaks and teaches throughout New England.  His 2007 publication Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine chronicles his fruit exploring adventures.  He currently serves on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA) Board of Directors.

After several years of dreaming and planning, MOFGA has broken ground on a ten-acre heritage orchard just north of the Unity Fairgrounds in a heavily degraded gravel pit.  The orchard will be unlike any other in Maine or anywhere in the US.  It will  preserve and protect over 500 traditional Maine apple and pear varieties for the next 150 years or more.

The varieties date back to when most Mainers lived on farms and every farm had a small orchard of locally adapted, multi-use selections.  Many of these are now on the verge of extinction.  With the help of “old timers” and hundreds of apple enthusiasts, we have been assembling the collection over the past thirty years.  Currently over 200 young trees are grafted and waiting in the nursery to be planted.  The first 100 – 120 of these will be planted in April 2014 followed by another hundred  in 2015.

The orchard is under the direction of a MOFGA committee composed of agricultural historians, orchardists and permaculturists. The orchard will be terraced into the remediated gravel pit.  It will be managed using innovative, organic orcharding practices.  The mono-culture model of the past is no longer sustainable.  These fruit trees will be surrounded by thousands companion plants: plants that attract pollinators and beneficial insects, improve the soil and deter disease.

The orchard will be a learning laboratory and a model for backyard growers, commercial orchardists, herbalists, permaculturists and agricultural educators. MOFGA will offer workshops and classes in the orchard year round.  Fruit and grafting wood, will be made available to the public as will historical and cultural information on each variety.  MOFGA/the MeHO organizers will establish an ongoing intern education program on site to care for the orchardas well as a state-wide program of apple stewards who will plant and take care of back-up specimens.

The project will be financially self-sufficient in ten years through the sale of fruit, fruit trees and other plants, small fruit, herbs and grafting scions, and through educational programing.   MOFGA has raised about $50,000 for the project thus far.   They need to raise $30,000 more for the planting of trees next year and between $80 – 100,000 for supportive programs in the next 1-2 years.

Want to sign up to participate in MeHO? $25 purchases a heritage tree for the orchard, $100 purchases 10 companion plants, $250 purchases soil amendments for 14 trees. For more information email

What do you eat when you write?

When I write I snack. Mostly it happens when I’m trying to get in tune with the piece I’m writing. My approach to writing an article is completely different than the way I approach life. I slowly make my way into the water, ankles, knees, waist, pause, shoulders, in. Until that first pause I’m not truly committed.

First there’s a homemade chai latte to get me started. An hour later a protein bar (I prefer Luna bars), unless I’m feeling as a friend puts it “naughty” and then a small bit of dark chocolate (I just discovered the xoxo bar in the dark chocolate/almond/sea salt OMG so good). I write for  a bit. Peach or plum this time of year, banana in the winter. Write. Lunch, something nourishing and substantial such as an avocado sandwich or leftovers. More writing. By this point one or two pieces are written, hopefully. If things extend into dinner time it’s popcorn w/ seaweed and shaved cheese (I was using parmesan, now I use Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound) on top with a cola. Yes, I know cola is awful, but at least I’m being honest. On occasion I’ve started drinking a cola here and there. No diet stuff, ick. It happened when I got sick from the heat a couple weeks ago and for 48 hours all I could do was sip ice cold cola. Otherwise I drink water and a lot of it.  Last weekend I took a break and made chocolate chip cookies. It had been too long since I made homemade cookies (and I rarely, if ever, eat store bought – just no good options near my home). Definitely a dough girl and so delicious with local flour and Scharffen Berger semi sweet chocolate.

So, those being my writing foods, I asked a few writer friends who also work from home what they eat when they write. I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I did.

Jean English (editor – MOFGA’s The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener– Pretty much anything and, unfortunately, everything that’s in the kitchen and garden! Just had haddock baked for about 15 min. at 400 F, in butter, olive oil and lemon juice and topped with parmesan – with a side of boiled chard topped with the juice from the haddock pan. Yum! (Leftovers from last night’s supper.) I’ve had daily hour-long breaks over the past few weeks to go to the garden and pick (and eat) raspberries and highbush blueberries. The benefits (and drawbacks) of working from home!

Kathy Gunst (cookbook author and freelance writer w/ focus on food) – Well it really depends on the season. In summer I munch on cherries or peaches or raspberries or blueberries from my garden or on really hot days watermelon chunks.

In winter I always have a mug of hot tea with local honey. Almost always. All day long.
I try not to eat while I write because….well, eating demands my full attention. It’s hard to concentrate on the food while you’re really working and vice versus. And I try to stop work and eat lunch and make it something separate, preferably not in my office.
Nancy Heiser (freelance travel & food writer) – Writing at home, about food, with food all around, is a challenge, no question. Often I have to remove myself from the house. I get a large cup of coffee somewhere and nurse it along. Second strategy: I set aside a small amount and nibble on dark chocolate.
Ashley English (blogger & ag/author of the Homemade Living series) – It’s really more of what I drink than what I eat when I’m writing. I don’t like to get my fingers messy while I’m typing, and kind of treat food like the “reward” or “treat” I get to have when I’ve finished some writing, so, instead, I turn to beverages. In the morning, it’s strong coffee that I naturally flavor, typically with cardamom. In the afternoon, it’s hot tea, often Lapsong Souchong or Earl Grey. In the early evening, it’s a glass of wine or a hard cider, or, sometimes, a cocktail.

What’s Up?

What I’ve been up to in a nutshell…

I have been branching out beyond bees to write about real food for the Huffington Post.  Did my first raising a backyard chicken flock talk at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine (more to come this summer at a much larger venue, details forthcoming). Picked up some  “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “I Fought the Law” nail polish from Deborah Lippman’s Punk Rock collection. Purchased airline tickets for my fall trip to Nashville, TN to visit friends (CANNOT WAIT!!!). Went to Nonesuch Oysters farm w/ founder/owner Abigail Carroll and my friend Kate of the wonderful Portland, Maine blog The Blueberry Files. Saw a really good movie (sequel to “Red”) and an equally bad one (“42”).  Oh, yes, lovely…got so ill from the heat a couple weeks ago I almost went to the hospital. No fun that one.

Photo: Special Sunday Portland Press Herald Root post!! My time @ the 2013 Maine Grain Alliance Kneading Conference. Highlights: seeing friends, all the bread/baked goods, Richard Miscovich keynote (cannot wait for his book this fall) & the incredible always inspiring Sam Hayward.

Wrote about the 2013 Kneading Conference for my PPH blog “The Root” and had an incredible time listening to chef Sam Hayward talk about iconic foods of Northern New England. Richard Miscovich’s keynote was insightful, I recommend taking advantage of any opportunity to hear him speak!

Photo: Hey folks. My friend Samantha Hoyt Lindgren started this super cool fiber project in Portland, Maine A Gathering of Stitches & I just signed up for Intro to Quilting (I know, right COOL!!). There are a few spaces left if you want to join in the fun. Vrylena Olney & Jacqueline Tung fyi...

Signed up for a quilting class my friend SL is teaching as part of her new fiber project in Portland, Maine “A Gathering of Stitches.”


Photo: So excited Jessica Stammen is having me back to her lovely project The Maine for my Master Shots series. I'll be doing Q&A w/ my favorite persons from the international world of photography. Today's post is w/ someone I almost consider more of a historian. The incredibly gifted, courageous VII Photo Agency lensman Ron Haviv

My friend JS has me back contributing to her lovely project The Maine in the form of my Master Shots series. I’m be doing Q&A w/ my favorite persons from the international world of photography. First post back was w/ someone I almost consider more of a historian. The incredibly gifted, courageous VII Photo Agency lensman Ron Haviv. Here’s a link. (Image Darfuri girls leave their camp to search for firewood. The journey will expose to danger of attack and rape. 2005 – Darfur, Sudan Ron Haviv-VII Photos)


about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.


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