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The Secrets of a Pie Maker – Chase Farm Bakery

Why is it that the best pie makers cling to their secret recipes as if they were their most valuable possessions? Robin Chase of Chase Farm Bakery in Whitefield, Maine is one such pie maker, marketing her delicious homemade pies at farmers markets and other venues throughout Midcoast Maine. Chase said someone even tried to bribe her into disclosing what goes into her popular pies, but she refused. “I can’t give my recipes away,” she said.
pie lady 012 pie lady 013 Above: Robin Chase removes piping hot galettes from the oven. These are made with a bumbleberry filling of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Truth be told, Chase herself probably couldn’t tell you the exact recipe for each pie because, like all talented bakers, her recipe file is probably stored in her head. She did not go to culinary school, but instead devised her recipes over years of trial and error. That, and through a lifelong passion for pies.  She describes herself as a “pie” person and her family of five children and their spouses and children as “pie people.” When the holidays come around, the family dinner table is a virtual smorgasbord of handmade pies: apple, pumpkin, pecan, chocolate creme, blueberry, bumbleberry, peach, custard and the list goes on.
pie lady 045 At Chase Farms, the family also runs a dairy, where they produce raw milk and make their own butter. The butter, however, is not used in the pies because it’s not cost effective, Chase said.   pie lady 022 Above: Robin Chase displays an oozing blueberry pie, fresh from the oven.

Chase did let out a few of her secrets. For one,  she uses only butter in her crusts, never shortening, vegetable oil or lard.  She adds a little vinegar to enhance the flavor and make the crust extra flaky.  She also uses a little egg to brush the top crust, and limits the use of sugar, especially with berry fillings, which are already sweet enough, she says. pie lady 040 Over 15 years of business, Chase has amassed commercial equipment that makes running her farm bakery easier, and increases production. She has a machine that will produce large sheets of crust dough at a time, a machine that Chase describes as “God’s gift to women.” She also has a large multi-rack oven and large cooling racks on rollers. Oh, and the kitchen window, that provides a view of the snow-covered pasture,  adds a bit of inspiration to her work space.  pie lady 041 Chase Farm is located at 333 Townhouse Road in Whitefield. Robin takes pie and sweet bread orders by phone at 207-549-7611 or Saturday mornings at the Bath Farmers Market on Commercial St. in Bath.

More Ways to Bring the Outside In

We saw our first snowflakes this weekend in Maine, and, while it may have been just a fluke early season Nor’easter, one thing is for sure: Winter is on its way. What that means is that it’s time to hunker down, get cozy and prepare our homes for the oncoming weather. It’s also a good time to store away a little bit of summer to help us through the darkest days.

Here are 5 more ways to bring the outside in:


1. Grow a Tree:  The trees outside may have lost all their leaves, but the tree on your wall is eternally green. Paint a mural freehand or with a stencil, or hang a pre-made mural or wallpaper for a fresh burst of springtime any time of the year.

bulbs terrain

2. Take Control:  No need to wait until spring to see pretty paperwhites and narcissi. Force bulbs now for a fresh, beautiful display come the holidays. 

seashell collection

3. Go Coastal:  Whether it’s a bowl of starfish or a jar full of sand, souvenirs of the beach are a warming and happy reminder of summer.


4. Forage Something:  Though the summer’s roses and day lilies are just a memory now, there is still beauty to be found in the present. Whether it’s evergreen branches or winterberry, rust colored leaves or fallen apples, there is always something left to be foraged, any time of year.

soy candle

5.  Make Scents:  Follow your nose back to summer with a sweet summery scented candle like this Orange Blossom scented soy candle from plain j body and home on Etsy. Etsy is rife with candles and potpourri that can help make a cold December feel like June.

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The Common Good Garden

It’s hard not to be inspired by The Common Good Garden in Brunswick, Maine.  On a given day, you might happen upon a group of volunteers harvesting carrots or planting garlic scapes or emptying wheelbarrows full of gone-by vegetables into compost bins. They’re doing it because they love gardening, and they believe in a great cause: helping to feed the hungry in their community.
common good garden common good garden Pam VanVolkenburgh of Brunswick, above, answers the call whenever she can. She thinks The Common Good Garden is a good idea and demonstrates how “a few volunteers can help a lot of people.”

Below, Doreen Nardone, Food Bank Coordinator for the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, loads boxes of carrots destined for her clients at food pantries across the region.
common good garden For a bit of background, the Common Good Garden is a part of the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, owned and operated by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust. When they rent a plot for the season, tenant gardeners also agree to donate time to the Common Good Garden. Food generated from the garden is, in turn, donated to the MCHPP’s food bank and put in cold storage until it is distributed to food pantries and hunger programs in eight towns.

common good garden According to Nardone, the Common Good Garden generated about 2300 pounds of carrots, onions, squash, lettuce and more this year. That, combined, with the thousands of pounds donated to the program by local farms, helps keep thousands of families on the Midcoast not just fed, but even perhaps well fed. Almost all the food is nutrient-and-vitamin rich, and organic.

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