Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baking with Whole Wheat

I have forgotten how to bake with all-purpose flour. I learned how to bake with nothing but. Now it seems that even recipes I try to make with even 50% all-purpose flour turn out tough as a brick! When I met Andy six years ago, he challenged me to make my first whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. They were okay, a little tough. A year later, everything had to be made with 100% whole wheat. We were living together and I made every meal except for breakfast sometimes. Five years later and I can take any recipe and convert it to whole wheat with a 95% success rate. I still haven't been able to get pie crust just right.

One of my main jobs on the farm is being a baker. I bake all of the bread that leaves the farm, date bars, cookies and granola. My mother-in-law is the other baker. She makes the good stuff.. brownies, killer pumpkin (marble grown of course!) whoopie pies, awesome muffins, quiche, fruit pies, all whole wheat! We believe that just by adding whole grains to your diet you can really improve your health. By eating a PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread, the fiber in the whole wheat slows the rate at which the sugar in the jelly is absorbed into your system. It means that the sugar high (you know, the one that gets the kids sometimes literally bouncing off of the walls!) is evened out. You don't have the high or the inevitable crash afterwords which is so miserable! My favorite thing to hear from customers is "my child loves your bread!!" It makes me feel like I'm making a difference. That is my understanding of it, but I'm not a health expert. that's Andy, hence the ban on white flour.

You can find my bread at the Better Living Center in Farmington, the Tuesday Farmers Market in the BLC parking lot, or the Saturday Farmers Market in front of the courthouse. Or you can go online and order it online at for pick up or delivery in the Farmington area. Or you can e-mail me at and I'll figure out a way to get some whole wheat deliciousness to you.

Anyway, the real reason I wanted to write about whole grains is because I wanted to give you an easy recipe to try as a transition for at-home bakers into the whole wheat world. I have been making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies since I was a kid. I remember the big bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips that my mom and dad used to get from the bulk store, I think it was called BJ's. When I was probably 10 I cut a recipe for oatmeal chocolate cookies off of the bag and kept it and made it over and over. These and biscuits were my the only things in my baking repertoire. Well, now I make them twice a week, only with my own recipe that I have built upon since the very beginning of my baking career. I would like to share the recipe with you. It is THE RECIPE for Marble Family Farms oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I prefer to use King Arthur white whole wheat flour for this recipe, but you can use what you have on hand. I know you will have success, and I hope it inspires you to use more whole grains in your own baking recipes! Good Luck!!!

Sarah's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Canola oil

2 Eggs (preferably fresh!) at room temp.

2 Cups whole wheat

1 Cup quick oats

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 Cup (heaping) Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together sugars and oil. Add eggs and mix until well blended. In a smaller bowl, mix dry ingredients together, and stir into sugar mixture until just incorporated. The batter should not be dry, it should hold together. Add 1Tbl. milk or water if you think it needs it. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon (or cookie scoop) 12 cookies onto a cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 9 minutes or until slightly browned and puffy. Let cool for a minute and transfer to cooling rack. Once completely cooled store in an air tight container at room temp.

Let cool, or eat hot with a glass of milk so the chocolate chips are melty! Just don't burn yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring in the Greenhosue

Spring has arrived in the Greenhouse for sure! I have spotted many spiders, flies, and even a few earth worms. It is very satisfying to be out there soaking up the sun rays in a tank top, jeans and rubber boots, knowing that it is only 30 degrees and snowy on the other side of the plastic that surrounds me. One of the greenhouses is full of spinach, most of which is ready to pick. I have been bring an abundant supply to the farmers market on Saturday Mornings at the West Farmington Grange Hall. The other housed happy chickens this winter up until a bit more than 2 months ago. It has been tilled and watered, and tilled and watered again, and is about ready for beets and salad greens to be planted. The soil is getting darker and richer every year. Now we just need to get the weeds completely under control!

That brings me to the next topic of interest. Spring means that our summer plans have been made and are about to be played out in reality. At the end of last fall, Andy and I felt like we we had been run over by the vegetable train and needed to sleep the rest of the winter to recover. It made us take a very close look at what is most important to us, and how we can continue to farm (which without question is on the top of the important list) without completely wearing ourselves out. We have a long list of ideas; what we need to cut out, what we need help with, and what we want to do more efficiently. We are looking forward to this season and are entering it with renewed passion and excitement.

If you're looking for CSA information, we will have it ready by next Saturday's market... Hope to see you there!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to grow garlic

Yesterday we harvested the garlic... already! The garlic harvest usually indicates to me that summer is winding down and fall is on its way, but it seems too early this year. It is one of my favorite garden tasks, you tug on the stock and a whole garlic clove is unearthed, kept safe for a whole year by dirt and hay. It is so flavorful and healthy, don't you love it?

In this blog, I will tell you how to grow killer garlic! It is easy to do, low maintenance and very rewarding.

Growing Great Garlic


This is when you will want to go to your farmers' market and start talking to your farmer about the different varieties of garlic that she/he grows. You may be surprised at the difference in taste, bulb size and clove size. We grow German Extra Hardy, a monstrous variety with incredible flavor. The flavor is so intense that you cannot use it raw. The bulb is much bigger than what you would buy in the grocery store, but only has five to eight cloves on it. The other variety we grow is called Phillips. It is smaller and milder, and has a pretty purple shell. So ask around and find out what will work best for you. Do not go to the grocery store to buy your seed garlic. It is not local and therefore is not right for your growing conditions.

How much to buy: Estimate the number of garlic bulbs you go through in a month and multiply it by 12. This is how much garlic you go through in a year and how many bulbs you should grow. You should also have a few extra growing to plant the next year. Ask your farmer about how many cloves there are per bulb. You are going to plant the individual cloves, so figure out how many bulbs you will need to buy... plus some for your winter pantry!

Garlic Preparation: You will need to prepare your garlic for the garden. The first step is to find a good movie to turn on at the end of a long day. You will need to carefully break apart the bulbs so that each individual clove still has a papery shell. This shell is the garlics winter coat, so try not to crack it. This task is easy to do as you're watching a movie or listening to a book on tape!

Garden Preparation: Pick a place in your garden that is well fertilized and that has fairly good drainage. The garlic that you plant will be there for almost a whole year, so don't plan on using this plot next year for something else. You will need the soil to be soft enough to press the cloves into the ground about an inch, so rototill or use a garden fork to loosen the ground. You will want a little more than 1 square foot of garden space per garlic clove. You will also need a whole lot mulch. We use hay; while it is cheap, there are grass seeds in it, so you can expect a lawn the next year. Straw is more expensive, but a better choice for the home gardener as there are no seeds. Other choices are leaves or dried grass clippings.

Getting Dirty: Plant each clove pointy side up. Press the clove into the soil with your thumb and forefinger until it is 1inch below the surface. Plant the garlic 8 inches apart in rows that are about 18 inches apart. Once you have planted all of your garlic, cover the rows with 4 inches of mulch. This will keep the garlic cool and will keep out the sunlight so that they do not start to sprout before winter comes.

Early Spring:

As soon as the snow starts to melt you will see your garlic emerging through the mulch! It is pretty amazing to see green when all of the world is white and brown. When the snow is gone, make sure that all of the garlic has emerged through the hay, and help the ones that can't make it by moving mulch out of the way. Mulch again in the places that need it so that you won't have to weed quite as much.

Sit back and watch your plants grow!

Early Summer:

Garlic Scapes: You will notice that a curly stem is starting to grow out of the top of your plants. This is called the garlic scape. It is the flower of the garlic plant. Cut these off before they stand straight up. You can puree them with olive oil and salt and use it as a garlic spread for sandwiches or garlic bread!! Yum!!

Fertilize: This is also when we give the plants a boost with compost tea. Mix good compost with water and let it sit for a day. Mix it up well and water your plants at the base with the tea. It gives your plants a good boost.

Last week in June:

Harvest: When most of the leaves have fallen and turned brown, it is time to harvest! All you need to do is go though with a garden fork, loosen the soil around the bulbs, and pull! Wipe the soil from the roots and hang the garlic plants up in a place that is warm, dry and dark. We put them in the attic. In about 2 weeks, cut off the stems an inch above the bulb, snip off the roots and wipe with a dry soft brush... Now they're ready to enjoy! Store them in a cool, dry, dark place and they will last 9-12 months!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's time to shear!

It's warm, the bugs are buzzing, and the sheep are BAAAAA-ing! It's time to shear! What an adventure that was! I took a course through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension on how to shear a sheep. With a lot of guidance from a very patient expert, I proudly sheared my first sheep, and watched as 20 other beginners did the same. It was a very large, 160 lb. beautiful yearling with thick brown wool. Her legs seemed longer than mine!! She emerged with barely a nick (though some others weren't so lucky!) and I emerged with a sore body, and the courage to go home and try it on my own!

This is Ramona, my momma sheep, with her full coat. I sheared more than 7.5 lb. of wool off of her!

I asked Gramp if I could use his old electric shears, he let me borrow them along with hand clippers. It took me about two weeks to finally say "Okay, Okay, It's time!!!" I had Andy and my very brave friend Paula help. I delegated tasks immediately and we went to work.

The first step of shearing a sheep is to flip them onto their rump so they're sitting like a teddy bear using my legs as a support for their back. In this position, they are fairly comfortable as long as my feet are in the right place. Then you clear the wool from their belly and hind legs. This wool is discarded as it is usually the dirtiest wool on the sheep.

After the belly and hind legs are cleared... well, that was as far as I could get using the conventional method that I learned at the course. There is a lot of maneuvering that needed to be done that was really easy when I had the expert to show me how to move into position, but that I couldn't get just right while on my own. So Andy (he's so good to me!) held the sheep in position while Paula kept the clean wool from falling on the ground as I sheared the rest of the body.

Once the sheep realized what we were doing, they loved it! After their new (very fashionable might I add) haircuts, they were put out on pasture. Well, they do look a little silly, but they feel much better. I now have about 20 pounds of beautiful white wool to process into yarn that will be the sweaters, socks, mittens and hats that keep us warm for years to come! I will take the course again next year and will shear these girls again, hopefully the right way! Until then, they're making a fashion statement that I'm proud of!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2010 Farmers Markets

This week was the first week of outdoor farmers' markets in Farmington. It was also the first EVER Farmington Farmers' Market! This year there will be three farmers markets in the small town of Farmington. The Sandy River Farmers Market will be held on Fridays from 9am-2pm and Tuesdays from 2pm-6pm. The new Farmington Farmers Market is held at the court house parking lot on Saturdays from 8am-Noon.

The first Farmington Farmers' Market was wonderful! The weather was perfect, there was no wind, and we had a lot of shoppers come through, we couldn't have asked for a better first market. Unfortunately I didn't bring the camera to the market, so I couldn't get any pictures. There should be a wide variety of vegetables, baked goods, meat, milk (a little later on in the season), eggs, seedlings, honey and other agricultural products as they come in season.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Breakfast Menu....

This morning I ate poached eggs with sauteed onions and spinach over toasted and buttered rye bread.. YUMMY!! All ingredients fresh, which makes it so much better. The eggs are great right now, they are very rich and vibrant due to the fact that the chickens have been scraping around the flower gardens eating bugs and whatever else they can find! The rye bread was made out of Maine Organic Rye and Wheat flours, the homemade butter was a gift from a friend (Mitra Luik at Aloha Rainbow Farm, no butter available to buy, but yummy chicken and duck eggs!) the onions were almost the last of what we stored in the fall, and the spinach was harvested last night out of the greenhouse. I should have taken a picture, but it's too late! So here is a picture of Richards beautiful, fresh, clean eggs instead. We now have greens available including green spinach, red veined spinach (bordeaux spinach), salad greens, baby bok choi, and arugula at the Farmers Market located at the West Farmington Grange Hall (beside the West Farmington Post Office) on Saturday mornings from 10-noon. The market is really picking up as customers with spring fever are craving fresh food!

If you are interested in having local food all year long at a discounted price, we still have space available in our 2010 CSA. Please contact us at or give us a call at 779-4858. We'd be happy to send you some more information.

Also, one more fun tid bit...

If you are looking for great recipes for your weekends, visit My father (a chef that is highly regarded in the state of Maine!!) writes this blog for the wine importing business that he and my mom run (T & D Imports). Every Thursday he posts a delicious recipe and suggests a wine that would be appropriate for the meal. Last week the recipes were for Marinated Pork Tenderloin in Adobado Sauce, and Maple Glazed Roasted Chicken and Vegetables... my mouth is watering and it's only 7:00 in the morning!! Until next time, Eat Well!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Yesterday as I walked past the bee hive in the blackberry field on my commute home I stopped to see what we had left. Last fall our bees were going great guns. The hive was bustling with life, a whole colony of bees stocking up for the winter. At the beginning of the winter, we noticed that there was a mouse nest in the hive, so we opened it up on a warm day, scooped out the nest, set a trap, covered up the holes so that they were only big enough for a bee to squeeze out and closed it up for the winter. But as the warm late winter days came, no bees escaped to stretch their wings and dump the trash that they accumulated all winter long. There was no warm honey smell as the sun beat down on the hive and there was no soft hum drumming when I put my ear close to its belly. Yesterday I opened it up to find a very large mouse nest made of dead honey bees and honey comb. The hive is dead. I cleaned up all of the honey comb that was clean. There was very little honey. I cut the honey comb into sections and put them in jars for the honey to run down to the bottom. I plan on making hand cream and lip balm with the wax. What a sad end to the hive that had such an exciting beginning! I plan on trying again this year with a different entrance... one that is more mouse-proof.

On a happier note, the greenhouse is flourishing with greens growing above ground and earthworms thriving below. The Seedling Greenhouse has been a success. The eggplant, pepper and tomato seedlings are germinating nicely, while the chickens in the West Greenhouse are fertilizing the soil for them. Andy and I have had two meals that have included fresh greens. Hopefully they will be ready to harvest for sale next week!

The sap has stopped running! What an early spring. Notable is the fact that on this week last year we drew off our first batch of maple syrup! Today we are done collecting and have 22 gallons of finished product! Not bad for a bucket brigade operation.

Enjoy the gorgeous weather!!