Streets of Mumbai

There is so much to see and take in while roaming the streets of Mumbai. My head hurts after. I felt better prepared today, yesterday was just intense and overwhelming. Today I was READY. The sounds of Mumbai are a constant, endless around the clock blaring of horns and hammering. At dark add dogs barking, at about 3:15am the roosters start. The air is thick with smog, heat and a smell you don’t want to think much about, later in the evening and early morning there will be a lingering scent of smoke. Hitting the streets I started on a lovely road lush and shaded with greenery and a perfect breeze. The streets are not marked so trying to absorb the landmarks when not familiar with anything and feeling overstimulated is always interesting. Jen and Vladimir made a good point, try looking up, the building of school, apartment and new apartments being built are all quite tall. When I hit the major street of my day’s adventure it was complete chaos. Crossing the road was one of those life threatening challenges, that when I finally made it to the other side, my heart was racing. I crossed this street twice.

I saw everything you could imagine. There were chairs set up on the side walk with a man lathering up a man’s face for a shave, others cutting men’s hair in front of a stand selling cups of tea in front of another tarp roofed shop selling sandals. A bicycle with a grinding wheel to sharpen blades, vans parked with doors open to display incense and bags full of colorful spices, chickens in cages with the racks of eggs for sale right above the chickens, young boys pushing carts up steep hills full of pineapple, with a machete to cut it up for you, loads of street food vendors with carts or make shift tables, tarp covered shops selling everything, fruit piled upon tables lining the sides of streets and flowers that looked like carnations strung on strings of garland. All of this with a constant noisy stream of cars, buses, trucks, rickshaws, bicycles, motorbikes and loads of people on foot, the horns going off continually. Attempting to take in the vast array of shops, I noticed there were also pockets of shops, a horse shoe alley of sorts to check out. These shops are mingled in with dwellings. This is where I found my salwar kurta, orange of course! It is a casual wear one and I love it.

I stepped into a bank since my ATM card is free anywhere for currency exchange. There was a man standing at the entrance with a shotgun. At the end of this street there was the Oberoi mall. I wanted to check this out and perhaps find a restroom. I walked thru security like at the airport, complete with walk thru metal detector, bag search and pulling me off to the side for the wand scan. The mall was huge, several stories and air conditioned. Restrooms were spotless. As I stepped outside the mall, there were three men scrubbing the walkway around the entrance.

From the apartment where my sister and her lovely family live, is a lush view of the milk district. Seeing so much green space in such a tremendous city is like comforting eye candy. People here work endlessly, Mumbai does not sleep it seems. This is a city of monumental population, 24 million and growing. I wonder what people do all hours of the night and where they are continuously rushing off to….

New Year~

As a blogger it would be shameful that it has been this long since I have blogged. It has been a wild ride since I have last posted. A blur of an amazing season, the highlights being the farmhouse has a *new* roof, brilliant new paint job and the inside front two rooms re~taped, mud and painted. Huge. The exterior work prompted by the insurance company which has my coolbot walk in cooler project postponed another year…..ah, well, the house looks fabulous. I am still in the process of putting it all back together on the inside, which of course has spurred on a feng shui attack. Much needed. Having piled two rooms (and of course epic rooms, the kitchen and living room) into the other already full two rooms for several months as the schedule of markets and farm never cease, has led me to feel as if I could be on the edge of being a hoarder. Which scares the crap out of me. But, hey, if this is what it takes to make my life more simple, I welcome it!! Purge!

Another of the many highlights is: Fish Tacos at the Common Ground Country Fair!!!!!! I finally did it, applied and was excepted as a food vendor at the Common Ground Country Fair. This fair is a spectacular event of all Maine Organic fare from celebrations and DIY workshops of all types of rural living. I have been doing the Farmer’s Market at the fair since 1993, making crowns from dried flowers and the ever fragrant signature scent of the fair: Sweet Anni. This year, I had my amazing staff doing the crowns for me and another fabulous crew assisting me with Fish Tacos over in the food area. Fish from Port Clyde, hand pressed masa tortillas formed and cooked right there, with the crunchy slaw and chipotle crema, all made fresh and from Maine (except the lime….). We had such a blast I wondered why it had taken me so long to do this? We laughed thru the three days that flew by.

I am now on the trip of a lifetime. I am in Mumbai visiting my sister and her lovely family. I have been here one day and know this will be the trip that will change my life. I am thrilled and always wanted to go to a place that would have such an impact. Photos and adventure tales will soon follow…..

April Fool

It was the best April Fool’s joke in Maine since the flood of 1987…..this time instead of flooding rain, we received 18 inches of heavy, wet SNOW! It was incredible, snowing, at times horizontally with the strong winds for over 24 hours. Many are still without power. Today, the day after the storm, it is still breezy, the sun brilliant to make all the perfect untouched fresh snow all sparkly.

Packing up for the farmer’s market was a wonderful workout of snowshoeing, shoveling and balancing act while hauling tables, baskets, pastry boxes and glass jars of treats while on snowshoes to the van that for the first time was not parked in front of the bakery. The roads were a mess until Canaan so it was a nice slow ride in. I made it. The winter markets are a complete blast. Not as many in numbers but for us who come, it feels like survival camping. What we do for any farmer’s market is incredible but the winter ones throw in a whole new realm of endurance. Today was sunny, altho a bit windy. Winter markets are more laid back and there is time to be social with everyone. The mutual respect for the vendor and customer relationship that each are so committed to come to the market in any weather is tangible. It is the most special event. I always know why I am there and I adore my loyal customers.

After a much less strenuous unpacking of the van upon coming home, I went for an afternoon snowshoe to enjoy the last (?) snowfall of the season which is destined to not last long. Out in the back field, the breeze was strong, the sound of water moving and crows calling, the smell of melting snow and tree bark warming in the sun…..Spring is still underfoot….just waiting to burst into full bloom.

Cold Climate Grape and Wine Convention

I had the great fortune to visit Jen, Maks and Vladimir and also attend the cold climate grape and wine convention.

Maks, Jen and Vladimir were loads of fun as always, I feel so fortunate when we can all get together. I miss Maks’ laughter already…..

The cold climate grape and wine convention was incredible. I am so impressed with the folks that organized this spectacular event which about five hundred people attended and it ran smooth as silk. The coordinators were few yet dynamic and knew how orchestrate this event with subtlety. I have been attending loads of meetings, conferences and conventions this winter and could really appreciate what they accomplished. The detail that we were able to cover in our workshops was priceless, identifying wine flaws with eight glasses of wine in front of each of us, seven of which having flaws for us to determine by smell. Wine tasting and blending, each group of four having six bottles of wine for us to identify and blend, all local wines. Speakers from all over the country. I was on the enology track, other tracks were viticulture and marketing. Meals were included, wine strolls, socials and breaks to network with other growers and wineries. Speakers, vendors and us attendees all had the chance to mingle together at each break and mealtime. It was fabulous. The convention vendors were amazing and I feel like I now have a handle on what equipment I am ready to invest in. From the crushing, fermentors and oak….right down to the yeast, bottles and corks. I have ordered loads more vines to plant soon but want to get my hands on some grapes! What I would do for a small batch to play with right now……

Dearest Oscar will be missed

I am heartbroken to share that my beloved adopted barn cat Oscar has died. It seems he has been diabetic all along. Something that tragically had gone undetected until it was too late. He got sick and then crashed so hard within mere moments that the vet hospital in Dover Foxcroft could not revive him. They were wonderful and tried everything. He was on an IV to try and rehydrate him for five days before it was clear he was not going to recover. He had been drinking loads of water but had an episode of vomiting during a ride to David’s so he could watch him as I was to leave town. It is hard for me to comprehend that a cat so vibrant and playful just hours before could crash so hard. But he had been slowly diminishing due to the disease of diabetes, I am just sick over not knowing this in time to save him.
Rest in Peace Dear Oscar~

Winter Pace

What a great week….it all started with National Pie Day. It was a true holiday for me, eating pie all day and not having to bake a single one. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much with folks I hadn’t ever seen before. Who couldn’t be happy, a bright, brilliant day in Rockland, walking around with others joyfully laughing, eating amazing pie at the lovely restaurants and historical Inns along the ocean in Rockland! Each venue had a savory and sweet to try. I thought I would try them all. Pacing myself when it comes to food has never been my forte….I was reminded of this while at the very first place I stopped. The savory pie was so fabulous, I had a second sample…..a little voice reminding me this was not a great way to start. I didn’t regret it, it was the best one I tried all day. Smoked porkloin on a cheesy quesadilla with smoked tomato and cilantro pesto… was smokey, creamy, tangy…all my favorite flavor sensations. After recovering from my pie hangover, there was much skiing to do to make up for such decadence. The cross country skiing has been fabulous and having the company of my neighbors makes it all the more fun.

January seems to be the meeting palooza month for farmers. The dates for meetings seem to be stretching into February all ready…..fantastic meetings mind you, much inspirational things learned and shared and great to see everyone. SInce we never have time to meet until this time of year, it always seems intense. This weekend has been the Farmer’s Market Convention which was fantastic. The workshops were wonderfully attended and the presenters amazing. I cannot say enough about this conference, incredibly reasonably priced and packed with irreplaceable information. The facilitation was scrupulously effective which is something that is not always seen at meetings. So much was packed into the time and it all ran smoothly and promptly.

I face another week of meetings and deadlines of things I let slide a bit….enjoying January and realizing spring will be here before I know it so I am cracking the whip upon myself to get caught up in the small window of time left to do it all in…..before the whirlwind of summer…..aaahh~ summer~

May everyone be keeping warm

Snow Days and Homemade Stock~

What a stormy snow day we are having too!! Dark with winds over 40 mph and the snow falling so thickly, it is white out conditions with the wind. I am hoping to go x~country skiing later if I can make it to the woods without being blown away. It is the perfect day to read and cook….soup!! I traded John from Maine~ly Poultry for some of his smoked turkey legs. Deep, dark, smokey skins, perfect for soup. The bones and meat have been simmering away for hours….soon to add the vegetables. It smells divine in here and am getting incredibly hungry. Taking a sip now and then from the pot as a taste test makes me realize that there is nothing better than homemade stock…..and snow days!

Winter Sundays~

I LOVE winter Sundays. They are perfect, today sure is anyway. I have been a bit under the weather since New Years so today I awoke feeling a step in the direction of better. Yoga, poached egg on my bread. Yoga kicked my butt since I hadn’t in far too long. My New Year resolutions are getting a late start….I blame it on not feeling myself. Poached eggs. I have not made a poached egg in I don’t know how long and they are divine. Eggs are the staple this time of year if you have chickens so I will be featuring recipes with EGGS for my markets these next few months. Poached egg on my bread….wow, did I miss my bread!! I baked for market yesterday, the first market since December 18th with the way the holidays landed this year. So I may have thrown off the value of poaching my egg with all the bread and butter I ate along with it but oh well, that is what happens when reunited with a long lost love, sometimes you lose yourself. And what better day to luxuriate in such indulgence than a winter Sunday…..woodstove radiating warmth, sun popping out to motivate something adventurous….the whole day lies ahead….
May you all find something to relish upon this fine wintery Sunday~

Best Of 2010

I just Love New Year’s Day and today is a stellar one with temps into the 40s and a brilliant sunny start. It is sad to see the snow melt and I am soon to head back out to play more in the disappearing heavy wet white before the predicted rains start.
The first day of a new year is bursting with possibilities untainted by the realities of the days ahead, gripped by an optimistic, exciting, anything~can~happen feeling that I Love to embrace. I try to feel this every day but New Year’s Day is even more special, like a birthday. This week, I have experienced one of those “watch what you ask for” moments….the classic resolutions of wanting to lose some weight and cutting back on caffeine have been floating thru my mind and to my surprise, I was seized with a bout of food poisoning the last four days and has made a very good start to this resolution. It made the long travel home from my family holiday in Michigan an interesting one, as you can imagine…..
I also Love to reflect back on the “best of” the year passed. I have so much to be grateful for each year and this one was huge with the completion of my commercial kitchen, breaking ground to my new vineyard and working in my clay wood fired oven. I am completely grateful for the loyalty of my customers, friends, neighbors, family and farm help whose support is what makes my dream become a reality. I am blessed and grateful beyond words. Here are more of the highlights and Best of 2010:

Favorite new adventure
My *new* kitchen!!!! I now have an amazing commercial kitchen separate from the house. Which I cannot say enough amazing things about….AND now my house is not taken over by catering equipment, I have a storage floor above the kitchen for everything related to the business, aaaahhhh~

Favorite new DIY projects
My clay wood fired oven!!!! I have had a few pizza parties in this amazing oven and am now playing with baking in it… dream is coming true…..

Favorite new ground breaking adventure
Grape vineyard. This last spring I broke ground for the site in a field I had been cover croping for six years and planted dozens of grapes for making table wine. Dozens more are to be planted in the spring of 2011. I am currently working on having my license for being a farm winery. YES!! I am sooooo excited!!!!!

Favorite food adventure
France….traveling to Rouen to eat at the restaurant, La Couronne (established in 1345) where Julie Child first had her French culinary experience that changed her life. It changed mine as well….

Favorite new ingredient
pear flavored Modena balsamic vinegar, oak barrel aged for 20 years. Simply Divine.

Favorite new pairing
Delicata squash, oyster mushrooms, shallots and gruyére cheese. Richly Divine.

Favorite new staple
red quinoa…..I Love quinoa and this one takes one more step into taste enlightenment. The perfect grain, loaded with complete protien and an enchanting history……

Favorite new ice cream recipe
Strawberry rhubarb crisp…fresh and exquisite….

Favorite gastronomic meal
La Couronne~Rouen, France and Nostrama~Bar Harbor, Maine

Favorite escapist experience
snorkeling off Culebra Island. All I wanted to do is float, staring at the brilliant wonders beneath me, hoping to have this luminous sight etched permenantly in my mind’s eye

Favorite new tradition
Skiing out to join my neighbors at their cabin in the woods on New Years Eve for thier unbeatable New Year’s festive revelry

Favorite event
the first day working in my new kitchen…..the favorite event that still continues….

Favorite new kitchen gadget
Knife magnets!! No more knicking knives or fingers searching for the right knife. Knives are now organized neatly in a row on the magnet mounted right where you need it on the wall.

Favorite new appliance
Convection oven!! This is not new, far from it. I purchased my convection oven at an auction eight years ago. It has been stored until this year. Placed in my new kitchen this summer, plugged in and it sparked right up and has been a miracle appliance ever since.

Favorite new cookbook
Thai food made easy…..this book is fabulous. Made easy is the key. Fabulous Thai food made in a snap.

Favorite new pieces of cookware
Le Creuset, my collection is slowly growing and I am completely in Love with each piece

Favorite new knife
Kuhn Rikon, Switzerland made, sharp and light as a whisper. The lightness I have to be careful of but when cutting tomatoes it is superb and for cutting the crustiest of bread, the Rikon glides thru as if cutting butter.

Hair raising event
The fire on my apprentice, Laura’s first day……short lived, thank goodness due to the fabulous Saint Albans fire department!!

Happy 2011 one and all, may your resolutions, dreams and wishes all start to become a reality~

Countdown to 2010

Here we are, the last days of December and 2010… full holiday swing, festivities a bound, I am trying to grasp that it is almost 2011. It has been a wonderful time with family and friends here in Michigan for the holidays. I don’t get to visit but once a year so making the voyage for a couple weeks, thinking I will have time to see everyone is a huge fantasy. Who I do get to see and what we share together is fabulous but the time slips away and before I know it, I am heading to the airport.

I am thinking of what 2011 holds. It will be twenty years that I have lived in Maine and the end of 2011 will be the ten year anniversary of purchasing Fire Fly Farm. Incredible.

I also am thinking of what resolutions to be made for the New Year. I find resolution creating fun, the beginning of a new year, what transformation, opportunity and new adventure it may hold. I feel 2011 is going to be a magical, exciting new year, I can feel it…..
I wish everyone a wonderful end to their December, time to rest and safe travels if traveling. Here is to the countdown to 2010!