Thursday, May 21, 2015

Brooke Dojny: A Recipe for Spring’s First Chowder with Fresh Herbs and Peas

Fill your soup bowl with a satisfying chowder of tender fish and spring vegetables.

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Chowderland
Welcome to Chowderland, a land where chowder — that slurpy, chunky soup/stew — reigns. My eponymous new book is currently rolling out to stores, and I feel like a proud mom. I developed the recipes and wrote the manuscript, and a talented team working at (and with) Storey Publishing edited, copy edited, designed, styled, photographed, indexed, printed, and bound the book. Now it’s out in the world and the result is beautiful.

Chowder began as a fish soup, but, as with many things culinary, the dish has evolved and broadened over the years. Since I needed to come up with some sort of definition of chowder for the book, here’s the one I offer in the opening pages: Chowder is a chunky hearty soup, usually made with salt pork or bacon, onions, potatoes, a main ingredient (often seafood), and a liquid. That’s just the starting point. From there, home cooks and chefs add or subtract, leaving out the pork to create a meatless stew, replacing onions with leeks or garlic, or switching up the liquid, but keeping potatoes as a constant.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ali Berlow: Five Ways to Make Every Day Food Revolution Day

Martha’s Vineyard high school students at MA State House for Farm to School Day
Teachers Jonah Maidoff, Louis Hall and, Anna Cotton together with Rep. Tim Madden (far back) with Martha’s Vineyard high school students at the State House, Boston, MA, May 6, 2015, for the state’s first Farm to School Day (Photo courtesy of Noli Taylor)
When I was a junior in high school, I spent my time running, jumping, and hurdling for the Madison West High track team, wondering about the identity of the secret admirer who sent me carnations, and talking on the phone with friends.

I was not going to the state capital to meet with my state representatives and to engage the political system in support of healthy school food, agricultural education in the classroom, and school food gardens. No, that wasn’t me in high school. It would never have even crossed my mind to do such a thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bloom Day — May 2015

When it comes to spring flowers, it’s better late than never!

Since our blog’s humble beginnings in 2009, we’ve participated in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, sharing photos of what’s flowering in our yards and gardens on the 15th of each month from April to October. This year, we’re a few days late with our May post (and we missed April Bloom Day altogether), but here’s long-overdue proof that we’re finally enjoying a riot of spring flowers.

Caroline Spear, the Green Thumbs garden columnist for Penobscot Bay Press (and friend of regular Bloom Day contributor Mary Ann Nøbben) submitted her photos with this thought, which puts the season in perspective: Finally spring here in Stonington, Maine after a record 113” of snow this winter. Every bloom is precious! 

Now in May, there’s a crabapple theme, but there are also strawberries, magnolias, epimediums, and even sweet sparrow eggs in the mix. What’s blooming where you are? — Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor

Mary Velgos, North Adams, Massachusetts

Magnolia blossom

Monday, May 18, 2015

Will Holman: A Great Many Hands

Giving scrap material new life can reveal a lifetime of stories.

Photo © Kip Dawkins Photography, excerpted from Guerilla Furniture Design
I can’t precisely pinpoint the first time I dumpster-dived, but I know I started young. My parents added on to our home six times when I was growing up, and there was an ever-changing set of crews reconfiguring walls, adding a porch, or fixing the roof. Dumpsters took up residence in our driveway, full of scrap wood and bits of metal that started to prod my seven-year-old imagination. I scavenged ends of 2x4s for my own backyard constructions, supplementing them with branches and stray cinder blocks.

Diane Gilleland: A Patchwork Map

English paper piecing hexagons
Photo courtesy of the author
I met a friend for coffee and crafting recently, and as usual I brought my portable English paper piecing kit — a flat box filled with small paper templates, fabric scraps, and my trusty needles and threads. As I contentedly sat there basting one hexagon patch after another and then hand-stitching them together, my friend watched me quizzically. “You know there are faster ways to do that, right?” she said.

Spike Carlsen: Sure Beats Life in the Landfill

From the smallest details to the longest floorboards, a new cabin holds echoes of the past.

Photo courtesy of the author
Cabin Lessons: A Nail-by-Nail Tale, my latest book, explores the journey our family embarked upon while building a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior. The cabin was built fewer than 10 years ago — yet some parts are more than 100 years old. And we’d have it no other way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Recipe for Shrimp, Fennel, and Red Potato Chowder

Chowder ventures beyond the clam in a delicious adaptation of traditional fisherman’s fare.

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Chowderland
In the introduction to her new book Chowderland, author Brooke Dojny writes that the origins of chowder are “shrouded in mystery.” Mysterious roots aside, the fish stew thickened with biscuits that used to feed fishermen in early New England and Nova Scotia has evolved to incorporate a wide range of ingredients from shellfish to meats and seasonal vegetables. Chowder serves as a versatile main dish any time of year; the fact that it’s an easy one-pot meal is just an added perk. In this meat-free recipe, tender shrimp and potatoes mingle with the sweetness of fennel.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Recipe for Rose and Coconut Body Scrub

Three simple ingredients are all you need to make a nourishing, smoothing treat for your skin.

rose and coconut body scrub ingredients
Rose has an uplifting, cheering, and calming effect on the spirit.
Flowers are a lovely Mother’s Day gift, but if you’re looking for a new twist on your usual bouquet of roses, try mixing up a jar of this moisturizing sugar scrub. Take it from us: you don’t need to be a DIY guru to make it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: Steadfast Grendel

Whether jumping fences or leading the herd, this Hereford lived life at her own pace.

Grendel Hereford cow
Grendel in the distance, sitting like a dog
A couple years after my husband Lynn and I started ranching, we bought a group of purebred Hereford cows at a reduction sale at the neighboring Pine Creek Ranch, to add to our herd of Hereford, Angus, and crossbred cows.

One young cow named Lady Onward 45, whom we nicknamed Grendel, started calving the afternoon before Christmas. We put her in the pen next to our front yard so we could watch her and make sure everything went okay. By the time she calved, it was dark and very cold.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Designing Small: An Excerpt from Cabin Lessons

You can’t buy happiness by the square foot.

Lake Superior Cabin Exterior
Photo © Jeff Johnson
Spike Carlsen is known for woodworking books like The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects and Woodworking FAQ. His new book, Cabin Lessons, isn’t a woodworking how-to; it’s an honest and heartfelt memoir about constructing a lakeside getaway — and the many lessons inherent in building for (and with) family.

When people find we’re designing a cabin, the questions progress in a certain order.
“Where’s the lot?”

“Seven miles north of Silver Bay, two miles beyond Palisade Head.”
“What’s the land like?”
“Three acres with manic-depressive shoreline, terrain like Everest, one almost-level spot the size of a basketball court.”
“What kind of cabin will you build?”
“Small” is the only unqualified answer we can muster. If pressed for a style, we think something along the lines of “funky, seaside, carpenter-Gothic with Danish-style Arts and Crafts leanings” — a style you’d be hard pressed to find in any Architecture 101 book.