Winky Lewis’s hometown restaurant

pic by Winky One of the pics by Winky from the Boston Globe shoot.

I have none other than Portland, Maine photographer Winky Lewis to thank for the beautiful images of me sitting in a tree and the three photos of me at the top of my “about” page.  Before meeting Winky the idea of someone photographing me for an article/any public display was a wholly unpleasant one. When Boston Globe Magazine did a story on my little homestead a couple years ago and hired her to take the pictures any nervousness I might have felt blew gently out the window. She just made me feel comfortable and the photo shoot ended up being really fun. I have worked with her since and she is a pro – and fact – people love when they hear I’ve contacted Winky to take their photo. She’s wonderful!!

Following is an excerpt from the Q&A I did with her for themaineblog:

What is your earliest memory of photography? How did it come to you or how did you find it? 

Gosh, that is hard. I do have vivid memories of taking lots of pictures with my little Kodak camera that was so fun! Opening those envelopes of photos was as good as Christmas. Also, my father took great photos of our family when we were young, they are really beautiful. I’ve got many of them stashed away in a box right by my desk. Those pictures have always been very important to me. Family photos can be very powerful. I’ve come across some that have literally made my heart skip a beat with some new realization or thought. My brother edited some super-8 video from our childhood recently and I swear that file, with the two minutes of imagery, is one of my very very favorite possessions. I cannot watch it without a flood of tears.

When not photographing her family, Isle au Haut, food or interiors, Winky can sometimes be found at her favorite Portland restaurant El Rayo Taqueria eating Pescado Tacos. She said those and a margarita, with chips and guacamole is her perfect dinner.

Since I couldn’t get a recipe from the restaurant, I figured I’d share a couple links to better than average Guacamole recipes, because who doesn’t love guacamole??

How to master guacamole from Bon Appetit magazine.

Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole from Kate at the Kitchen Door. Yum!!

Still craving avocado?  Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s Avocado Mash will never do you wrong. It’s one of my go to quick meals.  Sometimes I have it with an egg on top.

el rayoGuacamole and chips at El Rayo Taqueria, pic by me.

My first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (part two)

out of the plane window

During the last few minutes of my flight into Kisangani, the only view out of the plane was of rainforest. Beautiful, green, wild. It was late morning, and the sun was high the sky void of clouds. I have been living in Maine long enough, that this appeared to me a refuge from the past week submerged in the urban chaos of Kinshasa.

After a quick bite to eat, I got settled at a lovely hotel with friendly staff, beautiful flowers, a swimming pool, and three very cool looking cats. Later that afternoon, I saw a bit of the town.

Along the road were street vendors walking by with goods piled atop their heads (also a common sight in Kinshasa). Pirogues (a small boat that resembles a canoe) arrived and departed on the banks of Congo River.

In its heyday (of colonialism) Kisangani was reputed to have more Rolls-Royces per capita than any other city in the world. In 1950, while filming The African Queen Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart were said to have taken breaks there. Those must have been glorious days (at least for some), but since then the jungle has eaten much! The buildings that may once have been the setting for glamorous occasions and guests are dilapidated. Perhaps, if the area remains at peace, in a few years tourism will come back and with it financing and repair.

I noticed a stationary train across the river and was told sometimes it works. When the Belgians left the DRC in 1960 and independence was declared, few if any Congolese had been trained how to repair equipment so things broke. Built by the Belgians, the rail system was used to bring natural resources they had mined with slave labor and were stealing to waterways where it could be more easily transported long distances. The broken network of railways is perhaps the most easily visible legacy of colonialism.

Today, Kisangani, which means “island” in the Wagenia tribe’s language, is known primarily as being the country’s most important inland port. Barges depart here with goods heading down the Congo River for Kinshasa. The journey could take two weeks. I was not allowed to photograph the port, so if you are interested I recommend checking out season three of Anthony Bourdain’s television series Parts Unknown when he visits the DRC and charters a boat out of Kisangani to travel down part of the river. It’s one of the best episodes.

In his novel Heart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad referred to Kisangani (then known as Stanleyville) as the inner station, home to the notorious ivory trader Mr. Kurtz (FYI film buffs, this is who the antagonist of Apocalypse Now is based on). Following is how Conrad described the Congo River in the book:

Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once—somewhere—far away—in another existence perhaps.

Borlaug

The reason for my visit to Kisangani was to see the Borlaug Institute’s agricultural development project at a Congolese base camp in Kisangani. This U.S. State Department funded program, teaches soldiers how to farm. As I wrote in my piece for the Huffington Post, it offers hope and stability.

Per my fixer/translator’s suggestion, one foggy morning I found myself just outside Kisangani on the edge of the river watching members of the Wagenia tribe set their nets. Long a draw for tourists, the Wagenia have been fishing this section of the river for 150 or more years. They use wooden scaffolding constructed by hand over the rapids to lower wooden nets into the water. The nets have a wide mouth and then taper down to a long, thin neck. The fish swim down the rapids and go into the nets, where they are get trapped in the neck. Every morning the nets are lowered, every afternoon they are raised with vines. The precise movements of each male between 12 and (let’s say) 40 seemed choreographed – as if each muscle had been trained since childhood how to respond to shimmying up poles, balancing out on them….and then there were a few fishermen throwing nets. I was mesmerized. There is so much more to tell about the Wagenia and how the trip changed my life, but I will leave that for future posts.

hotel and cat

The swimming pool at my hotel and one of the resident cats.

Congolese Philly Cheesesteak and fries

cheese from Goma

The Congolese version of a Philly Cheesesteak (cheese from Goma, meat likely sourced nearby, and a peppery paste) served with French Fries and Coca Cola or Beer.  Below it is some of the “famous” cheese from eastern DRC. It is so yummy, a lot like Dutch Gouda.

Wagenia setting nets

Wagenia setting nets two

fisherman diving in

throwing a net

man and his family's net

getting a shave by the river

fish for sale

homemade meal

A few images from the time I spent with members of the Wagenia tribe. Fishing, daily life, fish heading to market, and one of the most incredible meals of my life. It was prepared by the wife of Augustin, a member of the Wagenia tribe, while we chatted and observed some of village life. We sat on traditional wooden stools low to the ground and ate with our hands out of metal bowls set on the dirt floor. The dishes are common in northeastern Congo.  Lokele Lituman – the Wagenia called it “Lituma” (plantains pounded into balls). A stew with chunks of fresh fish (the rich redness comes from palm oil, a staple in Congolese cooking). And, Sombe (in Swahili or Mpondu in Lingala) a stew containing the young, green leaves of manioc. So much flavor! The closeness to the earth and the Congo River. A light breeze buffered the heat. I felt connected.

My first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo

boy selling avocados

A few months ago I went to Africa for the first time. To the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be exact. I know, you’re probably thinking (in this order?) Ebola, dangerous, WHY? Ok, fair enough…let’s start with the why.

About a year-and-a-half ago I was researching a story about several people from the DRC visiting Maine to learn about farming. I wanted to include a little background on the country and I honestly can’t remember how this happened exactly, but someone introduced me to Susan Schulman. Susan is an incredible woman/filmmaker/storyteller/journalist. She’s brave and smart, and spent years documenting the fighting there.  Learning about the DRC through her eyes inspired me to want to know more about this country. It was around this time I happened to have a chocolate craving at Whole Foods Market and walked smack into a display of Theo Chocolate‘s Eastern Congo Initiative chocolate bars.

I’m a gal who believes in signs and it’s hard to explain, but that’s when the DRC really began pulling at me. I decided to do a story on Theo’s ECI partnership for the Huffington Post. Ok, couple more facts that will help you figure out why I did what I did. I’m a very curious person and I love to read. While working on the story I managed to stack up about a dozen books on the history of the country/region (thank you Laura S. for recommendations!!).

I mentioned these “developments” to Susan and being her she just responded – well, why don’t you go there. I think it was pretty much like that and I just felt/said yeah why the heck not. That was it. Well, not quite. From there I started connecting with people – everyone from ex-aid workers to photojournalists to diplomats to women who had traveled there to adopt – and it became more real. Hold on – this place has so much more to tell the world than Ebola, war, rape, poverty… And, I wanted – arrogantly enough – to help be one of the people to share those stories with the outside world.

Jeffrey Sachs, a genius/amazing economist/humanitarian…, wrote a book called The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. Read it! In chapter 3 “Why Some Countries Fail to Thrive” he writes about how the poorest of the poor are trapped in poverty – and that it is important to understand why economic development is not working by looking at a number of factors and not making assumptions. Not judging. In regard to Sub-Saharan Africa, these are human beings who live in countries, which are held back from developing sustainably because (in great part) of the legacies of colonialism.

Why I am sharing these economic tidbits with you? Because, there are a lot of negative stereotypes made about the DRC, and I believe with some education (not being actively provided by most western media outlets) people will have the opportunity to shift their perceptions of the country.

I am not suggesting anyone book a vacation to the DRC, but speaking from my own personal experience, don’t necessarily be afraid for someone traveling there either.

Here is how I saw the DRC before I traveled there: A place of great history and beauty that has been violated over and over again, and is broken but standing. I wavered between a childlike fascination, a boxer’s determination, and terror at the idea of what I had committed to.

And then, the wheels touched down. Achille, who the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa (the DRC’s capital) had arranged to pick me up, chatted with me as we drove from the airport into town. A 20-minute drive on a paved highway (Chinese built), which would have taken an hour a couple years ago. I realized a few days later, when driving the same route, the lack of light – the real darkness – that had hidden so much life from my view. During the first few days of my trip I woke to the sounds of birds, suffered through the almost unbearable humidity, felt the thunder in the afternoon, met the friendliest most beautiful people, discovered I absolutely love Mfumbwa (essentially a stew of greens, peanuts, and smoked fish), danced the night away at an outdoor nightclub, walked through a couple outdoor markets churning with activity – people buying and selling a selection of food staples (palm oil, manioc, meat, grubs, crickets – oh, I discovered I love those!), learned how to make Mfumbwa, and so much more.

I was the first participant of “Karibu Kwetu” – a nascent program of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the basis of which is to share with visiting Americans some Congolese culture and food. The program provides a “home stay” experience by organizing and hosting Congolese dinners at their homes. If you are interested in participating in this program let me know and I’d be happy to talk to you about it!

After a week, I flew to Kisangani on a Congolese airline (one of the single worst experiences of my life, but it all worked out fine and again I met some really wonderful people).

I’ll cover Kisangani in tomorrow’s post. Let’s look at some pictures, shall we?

pool

The pool outside my guesthouse.

view

A view of the sprawling metropolis that is Kinshasa, city of 12 million, on a road out of town. Driving around I saw a number of high-walled compounds standing directly next to dilapidated shacks.

liboke

Liboke (fish in banana leaf) served with plantains and Coca Cola at a little restaurant by the Congo River.

congo river

The Congo River.

home cooked meal

home cooked meal two

These are photos of delicious home cooked meals I was treated to by Congolese friends of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.  The host families made many traditional Congolese dishes including fresh fish (Mpoka) of the river prepared with spices and a few vegetables, Makemba (plantains steamed), a gumbo of smoked fish and spices and vegetables, Mfumbwa, grubs cooked with vegetables, and Fufu (made with cassava roots or plantain roots).

masks

A mask display at the national museum.  A small amphitheater outside is where James Brown played prior to the Rumble in the Jungle.

open market one

open market two

open market three

open market four

market six

market five

market seven

Scenes from open-air public markets. Hey, it was only fair I got in one of the photos. When I jumped in for a lesson in cutting what I was told are cassava leaves, people started pointing at me and taking my photo and shouting out “mundele” (the Lingala word for foreigner or white person). It was all in great fun with a lot of laughing all around.

Photographer Friday: Dorothea Lange

cover

I think it was probably my dad’s subscription to National Geographic that first got me interested in photography. Every month they’d arrive with gorgeous images from the four corners of the earth. When I graduated from college I got an internship in the photography department of a then popular lifestyle magazine in Manhattan. I did not choose photography, but all the internships in features were taken and besides the photography editor seemed so much nicer.

During that seemingly brief time of my life I found myself exploring the wonderful world of photography. I took a lot of pictures (mostly bad), looked at a lot of portfolios (mixed), and when time allowed I went to photo exhibits.

Since then, photography has stuck with me. Mostly I just admire other people’s work, but sometimes I like to play around with my camera – and let’s face it amateurs – Instagram and Snapseed certainly make that easier.

I’ve gone through periods of admiring different types of photography, but I always come back to loving B&W images most. There’s something incredibly timeless about them. I was telling my friend S that I love B&W photography over color, because I think it is harder to get a beautiful shot in B&W. You can cover up imperfections with color – be distracted by what’s going on – like a theatrical stage with a lot of furniture and props vs. just two actors baring themselves. There’s an intensity. She disagreed, but I’m still put.

Earlier this year I took a free online course through Coursera with the University of London. The course “The Camera Never Lies” was about how images and media are used as historical evidence in the twentieth century, issues of authenticity and manipulation, and the place of film and historical adoptions as public history.

One of the best examples of providing accurate historical evidence of rural conditions, something I am often far more interested in, are the collection of photographs from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in the 1930s.

The FSA was supposed to help poor rural farming families during the Great Depression get loans and provide subsistence homestead training programs.

Roy Stryker, who worked for the FSA and knew the power of strong images, helped launch a photography program to document the people FSA was trying to help and landscape where they lived. The program resulted in thousands of images published in outlets nationwide, which promoted the work FSA was doing, and introduced the effects of the Great Depression on rural America to the country.

One of the photographers Stryker hired was Dorothea Lange, who is as far as I am concerned one of the most iconic documentary/historical photographers period. Best known for their Depression-era work, she would see the growing number of unemployed outside the window of her San Francisco studio.

It was near there in 1933 she took what I consider to be one of the most perfect and historical images “White Angel Breadline” of a hungry person at the White Angel Jungle, a local soup kitchen. I got to stand in front of the images in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art a few years ago and it was as if time stood still for me for just a few minutes. Standing that close to something so beautiful and devastatingly real.

A couple years after taking that picture she began photographing migrant workers in California for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and from there for the FSA.

page 23

page 61

All images by Dorothea Lange from her book The American Country Woman, published by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, TX. Top image (cover), second from bottom (family farmstead in Nebraska, 1940), bottom image (unknown in California, 1938)

What I’ve been up to

Morning, everyone! Ready for another post? I’m adjusting to regular posting again. It feels so good. Last night, to celebrate and because cool weather is settling in, I made sticky buns and sweet potato kale hash from Tanya Holland’s soul fulfilling Brown Sugar Kitchen cookbook.

A couple weeks ago I spent a few days in San Francisco, taking daily walks through places like the Presidio and checking out the goods at the Ferry Street Building. I went to Omnivore Books (bookstores and libraries are musts for me when visiting a place) and that’s where I saw the BSK cookbook and learned about Holland’s famous chicken and waffles. A couple days later I ate at said place, but ordered the BBQ Shrimp & Grits with a biscuit (topped with homemade pineapple jam). Quick note – the best food in San Francisco seems to be in Oakland and that jam is a MUST!!

Since I have not been blogging, I have been doing a million and one other things: freelance writing work, beekeeping, backyard chicken rearing, and preparing for a sort of secretive, potentially life changing thing I’m doing in the next few weeks. (no, not getting married or adopting or anything medical). More on that secret thing in a few weeks.

Fall is arriving like an old friend one hopes will stay for weeks not days. With whispers of colorful leaves falling slowly to the ground and cool windy kisses at night that have you shutting the windows…This is the season when I eat more apples and just about anything pumpkin related, wrap myself in blanket on the sofa in front of football or baseball (the latter is something I’m getting back into), soak in the bath, and drink mugs of tea.

Before the morning gets away from me, I wanted to share with you a few links to stories I did while not blogging.

maine farmland

A profile of Long Grain restaurant in Camden, Maine for Maine Farmland Trust’s first annual magazine.

and

Huffington Post:

Tasting Whiskey

Q&A w/ Joe Conway, author Get Back Stay Back: 2nd Generation Back-to-the-Landers in Maine

Gourmet Doughnut Food Truck in Portland, Maine

Q&A With Diana Yen, Author of A Simple Feast (including a recipe for Raspberry Eton Mess)

Special Surfer Nights in Kennebunk, Maine

Hop Farming in Maine

Potluck Parties and a Q&A with Author Ashley English

Q&A with Kate McCarty for her book Portland Food: the Culinary Capital of Maine

Growing Soybeans in Northern Maine

A Report on Climate Change and Flooding in the Northeastern U.S.

Gunpowder Rye Whiskey: A Nod to the Past 

and

IMG_2297

Borlaug Institute Program Offers Optimism and Stability in Democratic Republic of Congo

Cocoa Is Playing a Positive Role in the Democratic Republic of Congo  (IMAGE above provided by Theo Chocolate)

and then I am also wrapping up my Portland Press Herald/Maine Today blog “The Root

Alisa Carswell’s hometown restaurant

alisa + Meg black balsam

Photo of Alisa (in the back) and her partner Meg by their friend Audra Ayn.

A few months ago I started thinking, I need to find a designer who can make Delicious Musings a place where I want to spend time again. I am so in awe of what the lovely Ashley English does with her space Small Measure, so I reached out to her for a recommendation and she pointed me in the direction of Alisa Carswell.

Blogging for me is an intimate experience, so I really needed someone who would get me – without really necessarily knowing me – and take what I wanted and grow it. Alisa did that and was an absolute joy to work with. Funny, smart, patient…all the qualities one would want for a designer. And, she listened! She paid attention to what I was saying and through a series of conversations and emails got ideas and then went back to her space in Asheville, North Carolina and got creative.

Because I love food, I thought what better way to share a little bit of Alisa with you than to give you a taste of her hometown. When I asked her to send information about her favorite restaurant and what she orders there, she not only sent me a great description – she even gave us a recipe!! Thanks Alisa, for EVERYTHING!

(from Alisa)

My favorite restaurant in Asheville is just around the corner from my house. King Daddy’s chicken and waffles! It’s run by some of my favorite clients on the planet. John and Julie Stehling. The reasons I love King Daddy’s are many, but the main thing is Julie & John’s commitment to local food & the community. The food is amazing & the service is the best there is.

My favorite dish to get there is Gluten free Chicken and a vegan gluten free waffle.
I have ceilac and it’s so hard to find any restaurants that have a dedicated gluten free fryer! King Daddy’s also makes amazing sweet potato hush puppies and I love them with a side of BBQ sauce to the get the party started!

My favorite thing to make at home is stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. I love the tradition of Thanksgiving. I love that it’s a holiday that involves eating and (for us) watching lot of great football! My Meg loves my stuffing more than anything else I make and she gets so excited as I only make it a few times a year. I love seeing her so happy about stuffing!!

My favorite Stuffing recipe :

• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 large sweet onions, finely diced
• 2 cups of celery, finely diced
• 1 cup red pepper , finely diced (I prefer Jimmy Nardello Italian | Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co or pimento peppers if I can get them)
• 10 oz of fresh button mushrooms (I prefer to use chicken of the woods mushrooms, but they are very hard to find in Western North Carolina in November.)
• 1-2 cups of veggie stock (I use edward & sons vegan gluten free not chick’n bouillon cubes. I prefer cubes over stock as it is a richer taste.
• 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage (I grow fresh sage, so yummy in fall/winter dishes)
• 8 cubes bread crumbs. I use gluten free ones from whole foods, easy and quick. Any day old gluten free bread chopped into cubes and toasted would work!
• 1 cup toasted walnuts
• 2 eggs lightly beaten
• grey Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
• 1 cup of parmesan cheese (optional)

1. sauté the onions, celery and peppers with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, when onions turn clear, add the mushrooms, sage, more salt and pepper and sauté for about 2-3 mintues, then deglaze with veggie stock.
2. Add cooked veggies to a large bowl filled with bread crumbs and walnuts and enough to veggie stock to soften (make moist not soggy), then add lightly beaten eggs, and stir to combine.
3. Transfer mixture to a large, greased (I use earth balance to make the edges nice and crispy) baking dish and bake at 400 degrees until the top is a little browned (30-35 minutes). Don’t over cook it so it stays nice and moist.

Enojy with a side of mushroom + brown gravy!

Why I blog (and a little about me)

Photo by Jessica Antola.

Photo by Jessica Antola.

You can get the gist of what I’m about to tell you on my about page, but I thought why not dig in and tell you a bit more about who I am now. Seems like as good a time as any considering the launch of the redesigned site.

When I was 21, I moved to New York City with almost no money eager for a big experience. I’d felt compelled to move to the biggest city I knew with the brightest lights I could ever remember seeing since I was in middle school. It was going to be the place where I would begin to understand my own life.

Over the next six months I interned in the photography department at Mirabella Magazine. When I realized that opportunity was not going to turn into the rent-paying job I needed I left to work for a tiny consulting firm with a client roster that included film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein and Oliver Stone. From there I went to work for Harvey and Bob full time at their company Miramax Films. Before I knew it I was riding around town in limousines with people (legends) like Harvey Keitel, serving popcorn to Faye Dunaway, and making sure that plane was going to fly back snowstorm or not to Los Angeles with George Clooney on board. There was a bunch of other crazy stuff – some good, some not, some boring.

By my mid twenties I had started traveling to Los Angeles for work and one Friday decided to move there, and was in a coworker’s guesthouse by Monday. Hey, those were the times and that was what you did at that age – all the while looking for the next “big” experience.

I worked for Miramax Films until I didn’t, and then I worked for the best public relations firm around on Miramax projects. There was a little craziness mixed in there, but we’ll leave that out.

In my late twenties I wanted to learn more about the making of movies. At that point I got the third luckiest break of my life (the first was working for Harvey and Bob, the second for the great pr maven/lady Pat Kingsley) and went to work for producer Jerry Bruckheimer as his assistant. Good things come in threes, and I’d say that about sums up my working experiences in the film biz – except I’d add “exceptionally” before good.

Nearing my thirties I left Los Angeles on a road trip and without knowing it moved to Maine. It just happened. One of my best friends and I set off on a rock and roll themed road trip and then there we were in this “magical” land where people went sailing and didn’t carry beepers. WHAT?? I took a photography workshop, started reading books again, visited an art supply store, and suddenly started saying yes to every invitation, because I had no reason not to. A month later I was back in Los Angeles packing up my room.

The film business taught me grace, toughened me up, provided really fun times, introduced me to some of the most loyal and amazing people, introduced me to some pretty wretched human beings, got me to be solution oriented – I think on my toes and I’m not afraid of much. My enthusiasm and hard work were often rewarded with more responsibility and some pretty incredible learning opportunities. I’ll forever be grateful and miss it.

That just about brings us to the current state of things. The last ten years has been spent learning about keeping chickens, beekeeping, gardening, real/slow/sustainable food, stitching, sewing, and digging my own damn holes (aka DIY).

This blog is where I share what I have learned along the way, and am excited about. It’s not just about me, but about a whole slew of things happening around me in Maine and a lot further afield. One of the things I am most grateful for are the exceptionally smart and generous people I meet socially and through work. I want to give those folks some space and share their talents and minds with you.

Thanks for reading all this and I look forward to sharing. I’d love to know about you dear readers, so feel free to comment and tell me where you live and what you are interested in – whether it be beekeeping, knitting, throwing dinner parties, whatever.

Delicious Musings gets a redesign

Photo of me by Jessica Antola.

Photo by Jessica Antola.

As you may have noticed, Delicious Musings has been down since the end of March. After five years with the same look, an overhaul was overdue. Well, today I am excited to share Delicious Musings new design with you!

A BIG thank you to Asheville, North Carolina based designer Alisa Carswell, who came highly recommended and was a delight to work with. She, and programmer Jonathan Edwards have been working on the site most of the summer. I would highly recommend this team!

As soon as I saw the new site and began writing for it, I felt like a new homeowner unpacking boxes and figuring out where the mixer would go, the collection of vases found at a moving sale. One of the things I love most about a new space is hanging art and with this new space Alisa worked in some of my photos and several beautiful ones by the very talented Portland, Maine based Winky Lewis.

I will miss the old site, but only a little. It’s like every place I have ever lived. There are wonderful memories you hold tight and some remembered experienced that are just part of growing up.

The primary reason I stopped posting in March, was because I was bored and a little burned out. I just wasn’t excited about the space and it didn’t mesh with the direction I wanted to go in with content.

In the future, you will find original in-depth series as related to food, travel, Maine, photography, movies and books. There will be interviews with people I admire and larger pieces on subjects I find meaningful. Lifestyle meets education and substance.

Anyway, I really hope you like the new design and the content. Please let me know when you love something and when you don’t. What you think means a lot to me. That you take time out of your busy schedule to spend with me is very much appreciated!

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans from Smitten Kitchen

Every week I pull a cookbook or two off the shelf, flip through and figure out what I’m going to eat that week. Sometimes I use the author’s recipes, a lot of the time I let their recipes influence how I use what’s already in the pantry.  A couple weeks ago it was the new Canal House cookbook, last week Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook, and this week The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. I’m all about simple comforting meals, which is exactly what the ladies behind all those books like too – or at least write about.

In general I’m not a fussy eater and certainly not a fancy one. My favorite food comes in styrofoam containers from places you may or may not want to dine at – yes, to those in the know I’m speaking about Southern barbecue. It’s not expensive, it’s “just” homemade and darn good. The only caveat in those meals – that the meat came from a farm the owners of said establishments know and the animals were not fed a diet of candy corn (isn’t that what some idiot was doing out west?). Oh, and don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoy eating right out of my garden – God’s salad bar, or what I paid/pay $$ to maintain – and certainly anything from the farmers’ market….but I guess it’s how the food is prepared, how those ingredients come together. I’ve yet to have anything but an extraordinary gastronomic experience when dining at a farmer’s house and my friend RC over at Ezra Pound Cake does a bang it out of the ballpark job with good ingredients in a short amount of time. She, like me, is all about the comfort food. You  go girl.

Someone did an interview last summer and I only found out about it a few weeks ago where they essentially said they only like fancy expensive food. Here’s what I have to say – you are really missing out – not just on cheap food – but on life. Oh, and for heaven’s sake don’t try traveling outside this country or even bother with the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles – heck California, and any number of towns – okay really ANYWHERE – because what’s the point you’ve already doomed yourself. Cheap food is one of the great pleasures of life.  …Sorry folks I didn’t mean to launch into this midway through a post on kale salad…but having shoved an inch of icy mush off my steps the morning of the final day of March, well I’m having right at it.

Where were we…right I was ranting about someone who eats food for a living and essentially said cheap food isn’t good. I was taking up for all the boardwalk stands, food trucks, diners, and ethnic restaurants with cheap and delicious lunchtime specials…I may be high maintenance, I may want pure maple syrup not the fake stuff with my pancakes, I may want ethically raised and slaughtered pork, but I am not a food elitist.

The art of fancy expensive food isn’t lost on me. I know and have a huge amount of respect for the palettes of certain persons who love it. I think it’s delicious too – at least what I’ve sampled – but if I’ve got a choice it’s going to be the Po’ Boy at Eventide in Portland or just about anything from Blue Rooster Co. (also in Portland) before I ante up to the big boys table.

Cheap does not equal bad, not always. Not anymore than expensive or luxury. Anything can be bad, but anything can be good too.

Alright, then how about that salad..

The kale salad I made from the Smitten Kitchen’s Cookbook – see how I’m jerking us back into the topic of the post – is simple, homemade comfort food.

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook  by Deb Perelman
1/2 cup pecans
8 ounces black kale, also known as Lacinato, Dinosaur, or Tuscan Kale
4-medium large radishes
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled

Dressing:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350, and spread pecans on a tray. Toast for 5-10 minutes, tossing once or twice to make sure they toast evenly. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
Wash kale and let dry on spread-out kitchen towels. Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl.
Thinly slice the radishes, and add to bowl. Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries (I don’t chop the cherries), and add them as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with dressing. This salad is great to eat right away, but even better after 20 minutes of tenderizing in the dressing (I wouldn’t know – personally I let sit for 5-10 minutes).

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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