5 Nutritious Foods You Need to Add to Your Diet

back farm 3For the past decade American culture, along with many others, has developed a diet that is based on convenience and taste. Many people, unaware of the consequences of their health choices, indulged in processed foods: fast-food restaurants, frozen foods, canned foods, etc. While these foods may be convenient and our taste buds may love them, over the years we have started to understand the side effects that these foods have. From this new awareness we have seen a shift slowly begin across the country as people start to make an effort to eat fresh, healthy, and organic foods. We at the inn pride ourselves in being apart of this transition to a healthier lifestyle and take new initiatives each year to help increase our impact on the green, organic movement. We grow many of our own plants and vegetables here at the inn and source the rest of our food from local farms as often as possible, including our son, Kyle’s, organic vegetable farm. We look to expand our own farm and garden each year, hoping to one day in the not so distant future be a full-fledged farm-to-table restaurant.

Over the years we have had the opportunity to gain a great deal of knowledge about the plants, vegetables, and flowers that we grow in the garden. Many of these plants can be incorporated very easily into your everyday meals and have tremendous benefits on your overall health as well as medicinal healing abilities. With that being said we thought we would share with you the health benefits of 5 crops we grow here at the inn as well as some meals to use them in!

Nettles

Nettles, which have been discussed in one of our previous blogs, have no shortage of health benefits. These prickly, green leafy plants can be cooked like spinach (trust us you don’t want to eat them raw!). Nettles are very easy to incorporate into a meal and can often be used as a substitute for spinach and other leafy greens.

Health Benefits (Derived from herbwisdom.com & Our Own Knowledge)

  • High in Vitamins & Minerals
  • Tone the blood
  • Strengthen Liver & Kidneys
  • Alleviate & Treat allergy symptoms
  • Contains compounds that reduce inflammation
  • Hope in treating many other illnesses:
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Tendinitis
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney Stones
  • And More

Common Served In (Derived From the Huffington Post)

  • Soups
  • Nettle Gnudi
  • Nettle Sorbet
  • Nettle Pesto
  • Pasta Dishes
  • Raviolis
  • Souffles

Goji Berries

Goji berries have a multitude of health benefits and their uses in the kitchen are limitless. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or even dried. They are a delicious fruit that is very easy to incorporate into your meals. These berries have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and are said to have great effects on your overall well-being according to Arti Patel of the Huffington Post . While some of these benefits still need further testing the fact that they are great addition to your diet is unquestionable.

Health Benefits (Derived From the Huffington Post, WebMD & The Healthy Eating Site

  • Great source of Anti-oxidants
  • Lots of nutrients
  • Loaded with minerals
  • Good source of protein
  • Amino Acids
  • High in Vitamin C
  • High in Fiber
  • Support healthy skin
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Alleviate cold symptoms

Commonly Served In (Derived From the Huffington Post)

  • Goji Juice
  • Smoothies
  • Trail Mix
  • Tea
  • Soups
  • Great addition to:
  • Cereal
  • Salads
  • Yogurts

rhubarbRhubarb

These stalky fruits that have become known for their use in delicious desserts, have a number of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that are great for your overall well being. They are an easy plant to grow in your garden and often have a life span of 10-15 years according to nutrition-and-you.com. Besides their use in desserts like the ever so popular rhubarb pie it can be used in many other great dishes.

Health Benefits (Derived From: Livestrong.com, Nutrition & You and FoodFacts.Mercola.com)

  • Low Calorie
  • Alleviates fevers and swelling
  • Relieving stomach illnesses & digestive issues
  • Good source of:
  • Calcium
  • Lutein
  • Vitamin K
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin B
  • Minerals
  • Fiber

Commonly Served In (Derived from Eatingwell.com)

  • Jam
  • Pie
  • Rhubarb salad dressing
  • Rhubarb chutney
  • Fruit bars
  • Soup
  • And many more desserts!

Spearmint

The mint commonly used to make mint sauce to accompany meals, Spearmint is also a popular flavoring agent not only in foods but also in toothpastes and as a scent in other beauty products. In addition to the lovely flavor it can add to our meals, it has many benefits on our overall health as well.

Health Benefits (Derived From Nutrition & You and Our Own Knowledge)

  • High in Vitamin A & C
  • Aids in digestion
  • Relieves:
  • Headaches
  • Fevers
  • Digestive complaints
  • The oil’s have antiseptic qualities used as a folk remedy for cancer

Commonly Served In (Derived From Nutrition & You)

  • Ice creams
  • Mint sauces
  • Teas
  • Garnishes
  • Salads
  • Flavored Drinks

Lemon Balm 

A mint relative, Lemon Balm has a sour, spicy flavor reminiscent of lemons (as one might expect,) makes a good garnish for lemon flavored dishes, imparts a pleasant sour flavor to vegetable, meat and poultry dishes, and can be substituted for other mints or basils. This plant has become known for the benefits it provides to the digestive system as well as its ability to relieve anxiety and insomnia.

Health Benefits (Derived From Natural News & Our Own Knowledge)

  • Many antioxidants
  • Promotes healthy digestion & flatulence
  • Relieves:
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Reduces anxiety

Commonly Served In (Derived From Farmflavor.com & Our Own Knowledge)

  • Garnish for lemon flavored dishes
  • Teas
  • Soups
  • Sauces
  • Vinegar
  • Salads

Sources

"Nettle (Urtica Dioica)." Nettle Benefits & Information (Urtica Dioica). Herbwisdom.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nettle.html>.

Orchant, Rebecca. "Stinging Nettle Recipes: What It Is And How To Cook It (PHOTOS)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 02 Aug. 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/02/nettle-recipes-stinging-how-to-cook_n_3690035.html#slide=2762527>.

"Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/goji-berries-health-benefits-and-side-effects>.

Patel, Arti. "Goji Berry Benefits: 12 Facts About This Healthy Superfood."The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/03/28/goji-berry-benefits-_n_5044948.html>.

"The Health Benefits of Goji Berries." The Healthy Eating Site. The Healthy Eating Site, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/>.

Ipatenco, Sara. "The Health Benefits of Rhubarb." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/403208-the-health-benefits-of-rhubarb/>.

"Rhubarb Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits." Nutrition And You.com. Nutrition And You.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rhubarb.html>.

Mercola, Joseph. "What Is Rhubarb Good For? - Mercola.com."Mercola.com. Mercola.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://foodfacts.mercola.com/rhubarb.html>.

"Healthy Recipes for Rhubarb." EatingWell.com. EatingWell.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_recipes_for_rhubarb?slide=1#leaderboardad>.

"Spearmint Herb Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits." Nutrition And You.com. Nutrition And You.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/spearmint.html>.

Jockers, David, Dr. "The Powerful Health Benefits of Lemon Balm."NaturalNews. NaturalNews, 17 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://www.naturalnews.com/042942_lemon_balm_health_benefits_antioxidants.html>.

Hamilton, Sue, Dr. "Growing and Cooking with Lemon Balm | Farm Flavor."Farm Flavor. Farm Flavor, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://farmflavor.com/growing-and-cooking-with-lemon-balm/>.

 

The Squire's Pharmaceutical Garden: 5 Plants & Their Healing Powers

When looking to improve their diet people often look to incorporate healthy, nutritious foods high in vitamins, amino acids, proteins, and other important minerals. While this is the foundation of a healthy diet and promotes your overall well-being, there are still going to be times when you are, unfortunately, going to catch the flu or another ailment. While people often look to food as a preventor of illnesses they often forget that plants and herbs can also be a remedy to many common colds and sicknesses. At the inn, we believe strongly in the healing powers of food and believe that they should be used to both prevent sickness and cure it. We grow many plants, herbs, and flowers around the inn that possess healing abilities and look to expand our pharmaceutical garden every year. In this article we will share some of our knowledge on a few plants and herbs we grow around the inn and the medicinal properties that they contain. These plants & herbs are not only great healers, but do not have the side effects that are often found in pharmaceutical drugs given at the pharmacy. We hope this article will inspire you to begin your own medicinal garden, so the next time you have an ailment you no longer have to resort to the pharmacist!

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

The leaves can be consumed raw when young or as a tea when older, and the shoots can serve as an asparagus substitute, but comfrey is not really favored as a culinary herb. Comfrey contains the organic molecule allantoin, which stimulates cell growth and repair and thus makes Comfrey ideal for speeding up healing. Common uses are topical application for broken bones, wounds, skin complaints and eye wounds and internal consumption for pulmonary complaints and internal bleeding.

Comfrey

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

This powerful herb has a variety of culinary applications. Many people may not realize that the little powerhouse they love to cook with brings a host of nutrients and benefits to their dishes. Thyme is high in vitamin K, Iron, and manganese. Thyme also contains the volatile oil Thymol, which has been proven to increase the percentage of healthy fats in cell membranes. When diets are supplemented with thyme, an increase in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes has been shown.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

While many know about Fennel’s heavenly scent and flavor, few are aware of its vast medicinal properties. The entire plant can be used medicinally. In particular, the seeds are high in an oil called anethole, which is said to ease indigestion, gas, and spasms of the digestive tract. Fennel also has the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, which is an anticarcinogenic and an antihistimine. Fennel makes a delicious addition to delicacies like pickles, grain dishes, and apple pies.

St.John's Wart

St. John’s Wort(Hypericum perforatum)

It has been dubbed “nature’s prozac.” It is taken to treat mild depression and other nervous complaints. Teas, tinctures, and oils made with this plant can also be applied topically to treat bruises, burns and surface wounds. The herb is used to treat a wide range of disorders including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhea and nervous depression. On top of its medicinal benefits, various parts of the plant also yield a range of dyes.

Sage (Salvia spp.)

A common sight (and smell) on the Thanksgiving table, Sage has a long history as a medicinal plant valued for its antiseptic, astringent, and calming qualities. It can be taken as a gargle or infusion (tea) to aid in healing sore throat or gums, and to relieve digestive disorders. Culinarily, sage is used mainly in seasoning meat, but can also flavor cheese. White sage is also used for a practice called “Smudging,” a traditional Native American ceremony used to cleanse spaces and prepare for important occasions. It has a pleasant fragrance and sage bundles are often sold as popular home fragrance.

4 Days in Midcoast Maine

Photo by Mark Jones At the inn our guests often ask us for recommendations about the “must see places” and “must do activities” during their visit here in midcoast Maine. Receiving these questions made me realize that while traveling is an exciting and enjoyable experience, it can also be stressful at times. Traveling is often the result of years of hard work and saving up hard-earned cash for these coveted experiences. When on vacation and spending this money tourists want to make sure they are going to enjoy these experiences and don’t have any regrets with how they spent their time. Living in the area for many years now and having the opportunity to do some traveling around the Boothbay Harbor area ourselves, we thought we would provide some suggestions for your trip to the area. This article will give you an agenda for 4 days worth of activities in the Boothbay Harbor Region. Whether all of the activities sound of interest to you or just a couple, we hope you find some ideas for your trip to Maine this summer!

Day 1: A Day Downtown Boothbay Harbor

With so much to do in downtown Boothbay Harbor you could easily find a few days worth of activities, but with all of the other great areas to visit while you are here, we will give you the top destinations to see and activities to partake in during your visit to this scenic harbor area.

Boat Cruise/Kayak/Lobster Cruise, Just Get Out On the Ocean!

The harbor itself is beautiful. Kayakers, paddle-boarders, and boats can be seen slowly cruising by. Whether you want to go for a peaceful cruise out on the ocean, a fishing trip, lobster trip, puffin watch, or rent a couple of kayaks, there is something for everyone.

Grab a Bite to Eat 

There are a lot of great local places to eat right at the harbor. Walk off the boat and right in to one of the many places to eat in downtown Boothbay Harbor. Whether you want the fresh Maine seafood you’ve heard so much about, Italian cuisine, or just a bite of pizza there are plenty of options to choose from in the area.

If you want seafood, McSeagull’s Restaurant, Andrew’s Harborside Restaurant, and Kaler’s Crab & Lobster House all offer fresh Maine seafood you are sure to enjoy. Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant boasts fresh Maine seafood along with a little something for everyone on the menu. Both Boathouse Bistro and McSeagull’s have decks overlooking the harbor if you are lucky enough to get a table! If you are looking for a fine dining experience Ports of Italy offers gourmet Italian cuisine that is sure to impress. Finally, if you just want a bite of pizza and continue to walk around the area look no further than Pier 1 Pizza.

Visit the Local Shops & Explore the Harbor

Photo by Mark Jones

 After you’re done with your first Boothbay Harbor dining experience, take the opportunity to explore the area. There are many great local craftsmen, artists, and small shops selling fun, unique Maine trinquettes.

While you’re walking around don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view. The ocean, soaring birds, and boats cruising to and from the harbor is truly a sight to see. Take in the sunset over the harbor and enjoy the true beauty of Maine.

Day 2: Popham Beach State Park

 Some of the most popular tourist attractions when anyone visits Maine are the beaches, wildlife, hikes, and historical forts & lighthouses. At Popham Beach State Park, you get to experience it all and it’s only an hour drive from Boothbay. Pack a picnic for the day and enjoy all that this beautiful area has to offer.

The Beach

 The tide pools around the beach are always fun to explore and you never know what wildlife you will find. Snails, crabs, hermit crabs, starfish, and other sea critters can be found hanging around these small pools of water. Popham Beach also has many sand dunes during low tide, which are always fun to venture out to. And of course there all of the usual beach activities that we all love: swimming in the water, boogie boarding, wiffle-ball, bocce ball, and etc.

The Trails

 While a day resting on the beach can be a great day in itself, for the adventurous and active type there are nature trails that can be taken around the coast of the ocean. These trails lead to some gorgeous views, wildlife spottings, and offer a dose of peaceful relaxation.

Popham Fort

 If you’re a history buff or just enjoy exploring old forts, then you have to check out Popham Fort during your visit to this state park. This fort has beautiful architecture and is a great place to explore. Children love to probe the fort, especially with all of the chambers to venture through and stairs to climb.

 Chilled Carrot SoupDinner at the Squire Tarbox Inn

 If your not staying with us, call and reserve your table for dinner after your long day at the beach. We have world-class chefs with culinary experience in high-class restaurants in New York City, Italy, and Switzerland, just to name a few locations. They will prepare you a delicious gourmet meal you are sure to remember. We source our food locally as much as possible and most of our vegetables come from our son’s organic farm. Eat dinner out on the patio and enjoy the view of the field, gardens, and flowers. While you’re here, feel free to explore the field, gardens, and farm area. We grow a variety of vegetables and flowers and even raise chicken and goats!

Day 3: Maine at It’s Best!

 The last couple of days have been pretty laid back, staying in one location and enjoying the area, but who are we kidding, you’re on vacation and you want to be out and about!

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Photo by Mark Jones

This extensive garden occupies 270 acres of land and over 75 different types of plants and flowers that bloom throughout the year. There is more to the Botanical Gardens than just the plants and flowers though. The gardens also have beautiful nature trails taking you along the coastline with one of these passing a small waterfall along the way. They have beautiful birdbaths, unique huts and bridges, small ponds, and even a kid’s section of the garden. There are many benches and chairs around the park to rest and take in the sights and smells of the garden.

The Kitchen Garden

While you’re here why not enjoy some of their fresh food while sitting outside enjoying the view and aromas of the garden. They use local and organic foods whenever possible and because of this their menu varies throughout the course of the season. They have fresh soup, salads, sandwiches, and more. Between the food, the atmosphere, and the friendly customer service, it is a great place to dine.

(If however, this doesn’t sound appealing, the Botanical Gardens are just 10 minutes from Boothbay Harbor where you are right next to all of the local restaurants!)

The Maine State Aquarium

 While the Maine State Aquarium may be smaller (just one large room) than some of the larger aquariums you may find in Boston and other large cities, it still has a lot to offer, especially if you want to see some of Maine’s sea critters up close and personal. The aquarium showcases many local Maine lobster with some as big as 23 pounds. The aquarium has local sportfish, bottom-dwellers, sea anenomies, sharks, skates, and more. If you’re crazy enough you can even have the opportunity to pet your first shark! They also have a touch tank where guests have the chance to see and touch sea cucumbers, sea stars, scallops, sea urchins and moon snails. Children love the aquarium and it is definitely worth the trip for them. Even if you don’t have children it is good for a short visit, most people say they enjoy roaming around for about an hour.

Downeast Ice Cream

After observing some of Maine’s very own sea critters venture 10 minutes to Downeast Ice Cream for some Maine homemade ice cream. They have many delicious flavors to choose from and you can even make your own sundae. They have reasonable prices and very generous portions. 

Photo by Mark Jones

Ocean Point

If you’re still up for another adventure after your long day, take a cruise down Ocean Point in Boothbay Harbor. If you are tired from the long day or just ate too much ice cream, you can cruise slowly along the road and enjoy the view of the coast of Maine. If you are up for some more physical activity you can park your car and explore the coast and beach. There are trails that go along the rocky coast of Maine and lead to some great views.

Day 4: Bradbury Mountain/Freeport

Over the last three days you have had the chance to see some of the beautiful sights and scenes that the coast of Maine has to offer. There is only one problem: as great as the coast is, you are missing the other half of Maine! As much we all love the Maine beaches, lighthouses, and seafood, we can’t forget about all of the beautiful mountains trails, and landlocked wildlife that Maine has to offer.

Bradbury Mountain State Park

Wake up early this morning and venture to Bradbury Mountain State Park to enjoy all of their hiking and biking trails. Take the short family friendly hike to the top of Bradbury Mountain and enjoy the gorgeous view or bring the bikes along to explore some of their bike paths. After trekking through some of their trails enjoy a picnic in their park or embark on your journey to Freeport where there are activities to fill the rest of your afternoon and evening.

Freeport

Freeport, just 20 minutes from Bradbury Mountain, is a must visit for anyone that has not had an opportunity to visit this beautiful town before. Filled with local shops, outlet stores, and of course the L.L. Bean flagship store, there are plenty of shops to visit. The area has a nice small, hometown feeling. It is a beautiful area with friendly people, so take a minute to take in the sights as you are walking around the area and from shop to shop.

Events & Festivals

L.L. Bean has a “Summer in the Park” series that features many fun events and free concerts. They usually have 4 or 5 events a month so plan your trip accordingly. They feature live musicians and not just local one’s either! They have fun events including: a road race, kidsfest, and a circus show. These events and concerts are all free of charge, so take advantage!

Dining

During your visit to downtown Freeport there are a multitude of restaurants to choose from. All of these local restaurants bring their own unique offering and many of them offer outside dining, which is always a great summer experience.

Linda Beans Maine Kitchen Top & Tavern offers delicious Maine food with a vast array of options to choose from. They offer many seafood dishes and there are many different lobster dishes to choose from. They also have traditional American dishes as well for those of you that have already had your fair share of seafood during the course of your stay.

The Azure Café, while a little on the pricey side, is well worth the money if you are looking for a fine dining experience. This Italian restaurant serves delicious Italian dishes, while incorporating Maine seafood and tradition into their menu and meals. They serve gourmet cuisine, have a beautiful outdoor patio, and top-of-the-line customer service.

Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro provides an experience that is one in it’s own. With a beautiful and one of a kind inside dining area and serving local food from sustainable farmers and fishers you are in for a treat. They make their food from scratch everyday and it is of the highest quality. While it is rather expensive, you will not be disappointed if you decide to dine there.

There are many other restaurants to choose from including: The Mediterranean Grill, Thai Garden Restaurant, and The Freeport Chowder House, if the restaurants described above don’t catch your eye!

Hope You Enjoy Your Visit in Midcoast Maine!

After reading this article we hope you have found some fun activities, sights to see, places to visit, and fine culinary endeavors to try on your trip to Midcoast Maine this summer. We hope you are ready to enjoy all of the beaches, wildlife, boats, nature trails, and lobster Maine has to offer!

Winter Break in Midcoast Maine

It's been a while since we last wrote our blog. We had a very busy summer & fall with wonderful interns helping us as well as delicious produce from the gardens. Now everything lies dormant (as well as us!!) under snow & ice. Since early December we have had frigid temperatures & a lot of snow & ice. It was really tough to heat our old historical Maine Inn when we had guests staying or dining with us but we managed along with cozy wood fires burning. New Year's eve was our last evening serving dinner & all had a good time. Now we are closed & doing all the catch up work that got put on the side burner.

This year our Christmas was especially wonderful because we had Mario's brother & his family here from Switzerland . There were 6 of them plus all our immediate family which kept us busy cooking every night for 10 to 14 people. On Christmas Eve even Santa showed up to talk to our grandsons Elijah & Julian. They were amazed & very much in awe. Then Elijah helped his Dad prepare a delicious fresh salad from The greenhouse at the Tarbox Farm (starting him off at a young age) on Christmas day.

This Year We will be opening on Easter Sunday, April 20th. In the meantime we wish you all a happy & healthy New Year & please do come & see us in 2014.

 

Holy Macaron!

Finally some of our garden fresh produce is coming into the kitchen! Ourchicory greens are in full swing and making their way into sides sautéed with bacon, onions and honey and served with confit duck and homemade black currant sauce. The currants themselves have just been delivered by a friend visiting from New York, so it's time to do some research on currant recipes! Rumor has it that our famous Maine blueberries are about ready as well.
Also drawing note of late are our edible garden flowers. Beautiful blue borage flowers have a sweet cucumber taste that jazz up salads, and our tempura daylily buds were a big hit.
Earlier this week, in a wave of either patriotic fervor or heat stroke I decided that I would attempt to make French macarons for our little Fourth of July picnic. In the end the project turned out the worst sort of beginners luck -- wrong enough that there was definite room for improvement, but successful enough to temp the foolish macaron neophyte into thinking she could get it right.
Encouraged by positive staff responses to the first attempt batch, the next day I set out to make more, sure that this time, armed with all of my "experience," they would be perfect. Needless to say -- that didn't happen. Instead they turned out even flatter, sadder, and more impossible.
So back to the drawing board. If nothing else I have learned that I am definitely more of a visual learner. Where written recipes fell short youtube instruction came through in a big way and third time turned out to be the charm and produced some respectable looking macaroons - so look out for a dessert special!

The Squire Puts the EARTH back in Earthen Oven

There is a new feature on the inn's front lawn (and no, it's not a Swissflag). The addition is big, rocky, and really, really hot. Well, wait a few weeks and it will be really, really hot.

 

That's right, I'm talking about the beautiful earthen oven we built over the weekend! After Jay put his rock skills to good use and built the base, we completed the dome on Sunday.

 

Constructing an earthen oven is more than just slapping on a few handfuls of  mud and straw, there's a lot of material that must be mixed. And we're not talking mixed in a cement truck or KitchenAid. We're talking about a good old fashioned stomp!

 

To complete the transformation, the primary ingredients--dry clay and sand--are measured onto a tarp. Then, KA-BAM! The stomping begins! The job is very much enjoyable and leaves the stomper with much smoother feet (see the pampered toes pictured).

 

After all the stomping, you are left to form the dome and let the structure dry for a couple weeks. It's a shame it has to dry for so long, stomping sure does work up an appetite!

Summer is officially here in mid-coast Maine!

With the end of double digging has come the end of doubled-upchores. Emily has remained out in the garden doing battle with the cucumber beetles, and occasionally the swallows, while I have moved into the kitchen (a dubious improvement in climate with temps in there hitting 95+). Recent projects have included candying pansies (much harder than it sounds), replenishing sauces and desserts, experimenting with new flavors of scones and attempting to produce double cream.
We've added a new dish to the menu - yogurt-marinated local lamb with tabboleh, baba ganoush and a yogurt-mint sauce. But to me this means much more than just a menu change since I was entrusted with putting together all of these various elements! Despite some performance jitters my Lebanese heritage pulled through and I'm quite proud of the results. The first night we put it on the menu I sat in the back room, not quite biting my nails, but at least imagining that this was how parents must feel at a child's first ballet recital. No orders that night, but we sold two the following night to good reviews!
On another front, we've had a loss here at the Squire Tarbox Inn. One of our goats, a sweet little boy by the name of Bobby, passed away this afternoon. It's a reminder to suburbanites like me who turn their rose-tinted sights on sustainable food production that although the garden is full of new shoots and buds there is  another side to this particular coin. Poor Bobby was off for about a week, but in the end he didn't suffer long, had a beautifully sunny and breezy last morning and he's now resting peaceful under the cherry trees at the bottom of the garden. We will miss his antics and goatee (no pun intended) in the goat barn, but are glad for his sake that he's no longer in pain.
Signing off from mid-coast Maine, enjoy the official beginning of summer!

Leaving the Sunflowers to the Birds

Today, at our little inn on the Maine coast, I set out to plant sunflowers in the beds by the parking lot. I begandigging holes in the dirt, enjoying its coolness compared to the blazing sunshine. After completing half a dozen, I noticed some bird-like shadows circling my head. Birds tend to like gardening because it unearths lots of tasty bugs and weeds, so I smiled and kept digging.

Moments later I heard the rapid flapping of wings in my ear. The once-distant shadows were now inches away from my head! Then my hat moved. The birds fluttered wildly around me and weren't leaving.

Confused, I looked upwards and the birds attempted to peck me in the face. I got the message. I ran to take cover under the nearest tree. The two circled the area again to make sure the threat had been taken care of. It certainly had, I wasn't about to go back out there and mess with two angry parents!

Needless to say I didn't think a harmless act like planting sunflowers would result in such a fiasco. Of course, when I talked with my bosses about the incident, Mario was quick to tell me that he was behind the whole thing! Just two days ago he attempted to fix the parking lot light. The light happens to have a bird's nest on top of it. When he was messing with the light, he said that the birds, which are tree sparrows, were a little peeved, but did not attack him. "But they must've had enough," Mario said about the mother bird.

Let's hope they give me a break, the sunflowers aren't getting any younger!

Updates from our Mid-Coast Maine Inn

We have finished double-digging! After two days of nearly frantic weeding and double digging -- the kind where you tell yourself you're just going to do so much and then find yourself in a panic to do twice that just to finish faster -- we have finished the vegetable plot. All that remains is to plant. We put in our Mung bean sprouts yesterday, and now we have cucumbers, peppers, and French beans left to go in.
The graham cracker recipe testing has progressed (there was a bit of a hang-up when we couldn't find graham flour) with three recipes baked. So far Alton Brown's recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/graham-crackers-recipe/index.html) is our taste favorite, but we now have to make the sacrifice of making pies and taste-testing them to see which works best as a crust.
With the spring rains finally behind us (we hope), summer vegetables are starting to come in. The farmer's market yesterday was boasting the first summer squash and some beautiful baby carrots. For us that means it's time to start changing up the menu to incorporate all of that fresh veggie goodness, so stop by and check out our changes!
photo (clockwise from top left): the before: with 1 1/2 rows double-dug and all of the grass still in place, house-candied oranges, the after: fully double-dug vegetable plot, graham crackers.

Midcoast Maine Historical Inn's news

I Double Dog Dare you to Double Dig that Dirt! As you might have guessed from the title, the last few days have been filled with double digging. The soppy soil that resulted from this last week's rain gave us a brief respite, but the minute the sun did shine, Victoria, Adam, and I were at it again.

Double digging is a process for preparing beds for plants. If you would like to know the specifics of the process, here's a video for you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W85QmZgDxFk . If not, all you need to know is double digging requires you to dig into a row more than two times.

While very helpful to the plants, double digging also helps us gardeners get back into tip top shape! Those shovelfuls of dirt aren't light, you know! I'll admit that, in a moment of weakness, I was tempted to run to the road, flag over a truck and get one of the shipbuilders on their way to Bath to help us speed up the process a bit. But, alas, I decided the U.S. Navy could have their ships and I could help our garden. Pretty generous, right?

Luckily, this intensive work is all but finished. We have two and a half more rows to dig, compared with the seven we had a few weeks ago. Now if only the summer rain would let us finish...

Cobwebs and Cookies

Today's rain was a good excuse to get some inside chores done,although it is breaking up our final push to get the vegetables happily situated in their plot. We settled for making the goats happy instead by giving their barn its annual de-spidering. Turns out that cobwebs are pretty good at clogging vacuum cleaners, but in the end we prevailed!

Baking is perhaps my favorite way to pass a lazy (well ok, not exactly lazy since there is always something to do around the inn, but rainy) day, so I restocked chocolate chip cookies for the cookie jar - a popular tourist attraction :) For the first time in my life I actually hit the recipe yield more or less on the head, so my venture must have been blessed by the cookie gods.
Later this afternoon will be time to experiment with home-made graham crackers and to figure out the perfect pizza dough and then a little friendly competition for best toppings combination, but since we have to taste-test all of them, everyone is a winner!

The Art of Zen Dishwashing

Working in any part of the kitchen can be stressful; pans sizzle with scalding oil, knives race up and down skinned onions. All the activity creates a microclimate in the kitchen similar to the deep jungle—only it’s Chef Mario one has to look out for, not big cats. It’s to be expected that the bustle of so many bodies moving toward the good cause of making delicious food create a pile of not-so-tasty dishes. But that’s what dishwashers are for, right? And by dishwashers, I’m referring to the ten-fingered variety, not the box of chrome. On nights where help is needed, somehow I fit this description.

At first, the mound of metal rounds can be quite intimidating. Sometimes Lara or Mario will rush behind me and yell, “Sharp!” or worse, “Hot” and then I have one more hazard for my ever-hesitant mind to remember. After awhile though, I begin to actually…gasp….enjoy doing the dishes.

This, Mario says, is called the “Zen” of dishwashing. You get into the groove of rinse, wash, rinse, and the whole things feels rather relaxing. In fact, cleaning caked mushrooms out of a pot or scraping greasy pans to a shine (ok, not quite a shine per se, but certainly a nice matte finish) can be more satisfying than a glass of cold water. Some things in life aren’t easy to clean up, but at least we’ve got dishwashing!

baby plants and crazy weather!

I'm still marveling at the roller coaster that the weather has beenthe last couple of weeks since I've come up to Maine. One day it is sunny and hot, the next it's raining and I'm wearing a sweater. The upside is that all of the baby plants we are transplanting are getting lots of water and doing really well while we can plant them and not have to stand in a puddle! Today we transplanted several sages, arnica, st. john's wort and (my favorite prospect) some cherry tomatoes in pots close to the guest rooms for some up-close-and-personal farm-to-table (or mouth!)
(photo - transplanted chickory and rocket)

Hello!

My name is Emily. I am one of two Food Production interns currently working at the Inn. I am a Writing/English major at Northland College in Ashland Wisconsin. It borders a place not dissimilar from coastal Maine. Our duties as interns vary widely; some days we weed and plant in the garden, and others we make (and "sample") delicious creations in the kitchen.

 

Spring is finally here at the Inn and that means flowers are in full bloom! Although it is difficult to chose a favorite flower, one of Lara's top picks makes its home right in our side yard. It's a tall, bushy shrub with delicate yellow flowers that have a smell, Lara says, that reminds her of summers in her childhood. She didn't remember the name of the tree, so I decided to try and identify it. It turns out, however, that blindly trying to discover the name of a shrub is more difficult than Google searching "yellow-flowered shrub." Even with Victoria's savvy hunting on gobotany.newengland.org, we had to cut our loses.

We've decided to call it a day for now and get back to back-breaking plant identification. If you have any ideas, kindly let us know.

spring is the season for....

We've been busy this spring!  We opened on mid April, and have had some good busy nights at the restaurant so far.  We are still only serving Thursday, Friday & Saturday till Memorial Day weekend.  We have had just a sprinkling of inn guests, so far, as is the norm for this time of year.  With our "free time" I have been getting busy in the garden.  I have Calendula, Spearmint, feverfew, hollyhocks and goji berries planted out by the old well.  There is mullein, skullcap, and elecampane next to the trellis.  I just planted some amaranth by the parking lot, and spinach, dandelion, and a spinach substitute by the willow tree.  I have nettles planted, and more sprouted, ready to go into the ground.  This is one of my FAVORITE greens...  Most of my tree seeds popped, and they will spend the year in the protection of pots, and get planted next year!  I have chaste tree, sea buckthorne, slippery elm, and horse chestnut.  I'm having a hard time getting the ginko tree seeds to pop, but no wonder, they are huge and solid, so I can see that it would be difficult to sprout!!!   I have lots of other seeds popped in the green house, just waiting for the garden beds to be ready for them...more weeding and spreading compost!!  Then I will start again with more herbs and veggies!!  The vegetable garden is getting plowed today, so will soon be ready for the veggies...any ways...back to work!!!!  Happy spring :)  

we are open for the 2013 season

Spring is here (ahem...kind of, well it is Maine:) and we are officially open!!  We opened for our first dinner service on April 18th, and all went well!  We had a few tables Thurs, Fri & Sat which was perfect to get the ball rolling. We are still working on classes here at the inn, but have confirmed a few.  On May 18th we will have a cheese making class for feta, ricotta, chevre and mozzarella.  The teacher is actually a woman that worked with the previous owners, when they made goat cheese in house...something we hope to do again soon :)  The other class we will host is an earthen oven building class, on June 8th and 9th.  This should be a fun two days where participants build a large oven that will be used here at the inn to make breads, pizzas and more.  As well as building small personal ovens that will be available to take home.  Of course, we always have Mario's cooking classes, but he can also do different stuff like butchering (a major money saver) and smoking meats!

As spring comes around we are busy in the garden too...we are sarting seeds in the greenhouse, such as nettles, red celery, lovage, salad pansies, goji berries, linden trees and much more.  All to be incorporated into our cuisine!!  Its an exciting time here in Maine.  Happy spring!!!!

Nettle recipe

Yay, I planted my nettle seeds the other day, and they are starting to sprout! Nettles are a nutrition powerhouse, yummy, and can be used like cooked spinach. Don't eat them raw, or else you're in for a prickly surprise ;) Nettles are extremely high in vitamins and minerals, and in Chinese medicine they are said to help tone the blood, and strengthen the liver and kidneys. I can't wait to make not only soup, but raviolis, and souffles out of these nourishing spring plants. Here is a simple recipe for a nourishing spring soup! 1 onion 12 oz potatoes, finely chopped 1 tbsp high heat oil such as sunflower or grape seed 6oz of nettles, coarse chopped (wear gloves, or use a plastic bag to handle when raw) 2 pints of veggie or chic stock 1 tsp nutmeg Juice of 1 lemon S&P to taste Soy sauce to taste

Cook onions in oil until golden, add finely chopped potato, stir frequently for about 5 minutes

Add the nettles and a splash of stock and let sweat for another 5 min

Add the rest of stock, simmer for 15. Add nutmeg, then blend. Add lemon, salt and pepper, finish with a dash of soy. Don't over season or else you will overpower the simple earthiness of this spring soup! Enjoy

-From Recipes for Self Healing by Daverick Leggett

A tease of spring :)

The other day was the first day of only one or two days, since about mid December where there was no snow on the ground, and the chickens were ecstatic. In summer they eat some feed, and lots of bugs. In winter we almost double their feed cause there is nothing moving around in the frozen solid soil of Maine from December to March. But the other day, the ground was muddy, and grass shoots were exposed :). The chickens went to town eating the bugs and tender green shoots! So much so, I barely gave them any feed! Ahhhh, the first few signs of spring!....it's such a tease as today we are getting several inches of snow again :(

Deer tracks

All winter long I've seen the deer's foot prints in the snow, so I know they are there. Yesterday, I finally saw three of them in the field. They like it here in winter, as there is basically no one around for the season, and we have our big field full of clover! We do see them once in a while in summer, but without the snow to mark their tracks, we can't know if it's as frequent as in winter.