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A Culinary Adventure at the Common Ground Fair

With just a few hours and a few dollars on Saturday afternoon, we took a tasting tour of the food court at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity this year.  The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, MOFGA, runs the fair, now in its 38th year, and encourages food vendors to use organic ingredients sourced primarily from Maine. This usually turns up a few surprises. Like tofu fries.  common ground fair 001-001 The fries, made by Heiwa Soy Beanery of Belfast, took the prize for “That’s Some Different.” We agreed, it was certainly different, but when the connection is made between tofu and regular potato french fries, we were set up to expect a similar taste.  And neither the texture nor flavor was reminiscent of french fries. I think I would have liked them more if they were cut smaller and served with organic ketchup.

Salad Cowboys from the Buckle Farm in Unity won “Best in Show,” for its tasty salads with curl cut beets and apples on a bed of spicy greens. The dressing had a tangy tahini taste to it, but we craved more than just the little dab they gave us.
common ground fair 008 common ground fair 004 The “Here’s the Meat” award at the Common Ground Fair 2015 went to Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. They served lamb sausage on a stick, and lamb kabobs. All ingredients, again, were organic and sourced from their farm in Maine.
common ground fair 022 We also tried kale, squash and pumpkin ravioli – a favorite of ours from last year – and two kinds of natural soda: maple and blueberry. The maple soda, a simple concoction of soda water and syrup, was delicious. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and money before we could get to some of the sweet stuff, like the very popular pie cones from the Maine Pie Cone Company, which are waffle cones stuffed with pie filling and topped with whipped cream.
common ground fair 014 And the crowd-pleasing strawberry shortcake from Paks Farm of Morrill was just gone too soon.
common ground fair 031 I also would have loved to try to try the firewater from the Solar Cafe, but got a gist of the recipe from their menu. (That solar bus is just cool.)  common ground fair 046-002 My takeaways? One, I’ve got to get a vegetable cutter that transforms root and other vegetables into pleasing curly cues. Two, I’m definitely going to try making home made soda; it’s so easy with a fruity syrup or just maple syrup and soda water. Three, kale ravioli is in our future at home, for sure. And four, I’m going to try adding hot pepper to a veggie juice or smoothie and see what I get.

I’m inspired.


How I Got Rid of Those Pesky Fruit Flies

The fruit fly invasion started several weeks ago with just a few of the critters flying around the blueberry juice left in the sink. Before I knew it, there were hundreds buzzing around the kitchen, the sink, the oranges on the table, and the trash can. I’ve had fruit flies before, but usually they disappeared in a couple of days on their own, not multiply in epic numbers. This time, they were out of control and I had to do something about it.

So, I searched the internet for how to get rid of fruit flies without chemicals or having to go out to the store to purchase anything new. I also scanned my small collection of old gardening books for answers.

Some of the ideas:

      • Squirt the flies with water, which immobilizes them, then wipe them up with a paper towel.
      • Pour boiling water down the drain to make sure to eliminate any fruit fly eggs. (They can lay hundreds of eggs at a time.)
      • Make a trap using a jar filled with apple cider vinegar and a little dish soap to “break the surface tension.” Then, make a paper cone, leaving a tiny opening at the end, and place down inside the jar. The theory is, the fruit flies go in after the apple cider vinegar, fall in and drown.
      • Make a trap similar to the one above, but put plastic wrap over the top of the jar, secure it with elastic and poke holes in it.  Again, the theory is the flies will go after the apple cider vinegar and drown.

Fruit_fly_trap Downtowngal/Wikimedia Commons

I also read that fruit flies basically like anything that’s sweet and fermenting. The only things I had on hand that I was willing to forfeit to the cause were balsamic vinegar or hard apple cider.

I tried the balsamic vinegar first and apparently it was not appetizing enough for the flies because they barely touched it. Because I was getting very weary of battling the tiny bugs and wanted them gone, I reached next for the hard cider.

And, Bingo! fruit flies 001

Hard cider mixed with a couple of drops of dish liquid did the trick. Within a day or so, I had hundreds of fruit flies dead in the dish. As an extra precaution, I poured boiling water in the sink drains to kill any eggs, and emptied and cleaned the garbage can. So far, so good, as they say.

I did not try the paper cone or the plastic wrap. For some reason, I thought it would take longer for the flies to fly into a hole and I didn’t want to wait that long.  I also didn’t try apple cider vinegar or kombucha tea, but I suspect they would work equally well.

I am very happy to have my kitchen to myself again. I got rid of the fruit flies without using any harmful chemicals, and I didn’t pay a cent to do it. Boom!

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New Kid: the Boston Public Market

New Englanders are well familiar with the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston, a four building indoor-outdoor marketplace brimming with restaurants, bakeries, specialty stores and an ever changing array of street performers. But as of this summer, there’s a new kid in town: the Boston Public Market. show 014 Peterman’s Boards and Bowls, Gill, MA

Located at 100 Hanover Street at the Haymarket MBTA stop, the Boston Public Market has been in the works officially since 2001 with the creation of the Boston Public Market Association. But the idea for a year-round market focusing on fresh local food and produce was being kicked around much longer than that, back to the mid century when the old Quincy Market in the Faneuil Hall area had fallen into disrepair after nearly more than a century of use primarily as a farmers’ market. The new Quincy Market had a modern, festive feel, leaving supporters of a more produce-based market wanting more. show 025 Boston Honey Company, Holliston, MA show 033 Mother Juice, Cambridge, MA

Fast forward to July 2015, and the brand new market has opened to welcoming crowds hungry for local fare, with 37 vendors offering a variety of locally grown vegetables and flowers, plus New England made products like honey,  artisan soap and wooden bowls. The Boston Public Market is considered part of the city’s new market district, along with the historic Blackstone Block and the Haymarket open air markets. show 021 Stow Greenhouses, Stow, MA show 026 show 037 show 036 show 028 Siena Farms, Sudbury, MA

Never one to pass up a salad, I indulged in an absolutely delicious Super Green Salad with spinach and walnuts and an almond-dressing at Mother Juice. Mother Juice has a second location in Kendall Square in Cambridge and you can also order online.

Boston Public Market seems to have a bright future and an exciting mission: to support local food and agriculture, healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles, and inclusiveness and diversity in the food system. As such, the market is offering a wide variety of programs, food classes and exercise sessions. It also encourages SNAP recipients to use their benefits there, and even offers a dollar for dollar match to SNAP users through the city’s Boston Bounty Bucks program.

If You Go:

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[Ideas + Inspiration]


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