Posted in Baking, Dessert, Dinner, Easy Meals, family, Food, Health, Maine, Recipe, Uncategorized

Foraging Our Little Lot of Land

I found some blueberry bushes on our property a few weeks ago. We only have 2 acres.  But those two are filled with apple trees, blackberry bushes, a pear tree and several blueberry bushes. Most of which we didn’t know about before we bought the house.

A few weeks ago, when we found the blueberries, we had already missed out on the first round to ripen. Hundreds of blueberries littered the ground.  But that didn’t matter much. Our first haul garnered six and a half pounds of some of the biggest blueberries I have ever seen.
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I don’t even really like blueberries. I mean, they’re alright.  But finding them, picking them and cleaning them has brought something out in me that I didn’t know was there.  A foragers instinct that I’ve never explored.  Every few days I’ll go and survey the land.  I’ll take my colander just in case anything is ready to be picked.  I’ll stop by my pear tree, check on the one pear that still hangs.  At one time there were 2 pears on it, but something got one of them.  After I confirm that the pear, is in fact, still in the tree, I move on to the blueberry bushes.  I pick what I can.  Trying to contain my excitement at the bounty so as to not pick any before they’re ready.

Next, I move on the apple trees.  When we did our home inspection before we bought it last year, our inspector was pretty impressed by how old the trees appeared to be. Upon inspection of the apples, some research, and a professionals opinion we have concluded that these are Baldwin apples.  One of the oldest types of apples there is.  First introduced to Maine in the late 1700’s.  They are great for making pies, apple sauce, and cider. A couple of friends came over for dinner the other night and they tried some of the apples. The smaller one they tried was still tart, but the bigger one was sweet.  They should be great for baking.

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I told my husband the other day that I wanted to be a farmer.  He looked concerned.  I assured him that I meant as a hobby, not a profession.   We are going to work our way up to getting some chickens next spring, I think.  In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I could keep something alive, other than humans and dogs.  So I started a herb garden.  So far so good.  Much better than my succulent garden last year.

 

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As the weather changes and fall creeps in, the thought of all the baking and cooking possibilities with these provisions gets me even more excited for fall than I usually am.  I’ve already tried out a few recipes that I’m excited to share here soon.  So keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Blueberry Lemon Freezer Jam
  • Homemade No-Churn Blueberry Ice Cream
  • Tomato Basil Bisque

More will be added as soon as the apples ripen.

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, Maine, Photography, Uncategorized, writing

A Place For Maine Writers, Bloggers and Photographers

 

Hi there! My name is Darci and am still fairly new to blogging.  I noticed that there aren’t any FB groups dedicated to bloggers in Maine.  I thought this would be a great place to first connect, and see if there may be in interested in joining one.  If there is, than I’d be very happy to get one going.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like to be involved. Just comment below!

 

Thanks!

Posted in Dinner, Easy Meals, Food, Maine, Recipe, Uncategorized

Turkey Meatloaf with Meme’s Meatloaf Sauce

Growing up, I didn’t care much for meatloaf, but it was a staple dish at our house.  We were the quintessential downeast Mainer, meat and potatoes kind of family.

Now, my house consists of me, my husband and my 28-year-old brother.  Most nights the decision as to what to have for dinner falls on my shoulders.  It’s my cross to bear.  My husband will happily eat most anything.  My brother is far more picky.  I’ve made turkey meatloaf a few times,  and he was having no part of it.  But he had a suggestion.  “Why don’t you make it like Meme does?”

I had no idea how my grandmother made her meatloaf.  I mean, how many ways is there to make it really?  I asked J.J how Meme made it.  He wasn’t sure either.  The only thing he knew for certain was that it came with some type of tomato based sauce.

So the other night, I called my Meme.  I told her I was going to make her meatloaf, and needed go over the recipe with her.  When I told her that I was going to make it with ground turkey instead of ground beef, you could sense the hesitation.  She was trying to be so nice. She said “Uh, well Darci, I just don’t know how that will turn out”. And  ” You can’t put tomato sauce with turkey!” I assured her that it would be fine.  I also had to give J.J. a pep talk. I told him that it would be fine.  He agreed to try it, and voila, he ate it all.  I win.

So here’s what I did:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together 1 lb Lean Ground Turkey, 1 egg, 1/2 a large chopped green pepper, 1/2 an onion finely chopped, and 5 or 6 ritz crackers.  Put mixture in a loaf pan and put it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

When it’s done, lift the meatloaf out of the pan and put the pan on a burner and turn it on low.  Add a can of Tomato soup, half a cup of chicken stock, and a couple of tablespoons of wondra to thicken.  Heat the mixture until it starts to simmer.  If the consistency seems too watery, add more wondra until it thickens.  Once it’s the right consistency, I pour it into a gravy boat so everyone can serve themselves at the table.

So that’s that. But now, I’m curious… What was a staple dish at your house growing up?  Have you revamped it or changed it now that you’re the one cooking it?

Posted in belief, family, Inspirations, life, Sports, Uncategorized, writing

Going To The Mattresses


 

 

 

I’ve never seen “The Godfather”. But, I have seen “You’ve Got Mail”. Many, many times. In the movie, Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, is at odds with a big businessman named Joe Fox, whose company is about to put her’s under.  Unbeknownst to the both of them, they are each other’s secret online love interests.  Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks replies with the following message to Kathleen when she asked him for business advice:

“Go to the mattresses. You’re at war. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal its business. Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death!”

This post was a tricky one to write.  There are so many variations of what it means to fight.  You can fight for an injustice, for someone’s well-being, or for something you believe in. My family has been tackling some of those lately.


My first lesson about “Going to the Mattresses”

For my entire life, I have been terrible at all sports. Awful. I have no business being on any sort of field or court in a competitive setting.  However, in 7th grade, I signed up to play on our middle school soccer team.  Every sport I had played leading up to this, I had been coached by my dad or his friends at the rec department.  That wasn’t the case this time.

During one match, our team was winning 7-0 and we were in the final minutes of the game.  The coach called my name for the first time that day and put me in as fullback.  The whistle blew and an opposing wing came at me with the ball.  I managed to take it away and kick it in the opposite direction.  A few seconds later the whistle blew again and I had been replaced.  As I came off the field I saw my dad get out of the car and start walking towards our sideline.  I thought “he’s probably coming to tell me what a great job I did, kicking that ball away.” I was mistaken.

“Darci! Get your shit, we’re going home!” I stopped in my tracks, shocked.  He didn’t stop there though.  He then turned to the coach.  “Hey!  You’ve got an awful lot to learn about coaching!” he said.  “You’re up 7-0, and you can’t leave her in there for more than 30 seconds?  You’ve been playing your first string the entire game!”

That was the end of my soccer career.  I was so embarrassed.  I remember crying and dreading going to school the next day.  We are from a very small town where everyone knows everyone.  I knew kids and their parents would be talking about it. Later on that night, dad came to have a talk with me about what had happened.  I believe this was after he had had a phone call with my former coach.  While I don’t remember his exact words, the moral of the story was “That wasn’t right.  That’s not how to be a good coach.  And she needed to know how I felt” My dad lacks subtlety, at times.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  But, I’ll never forget that day and the lesson I learned. He fought for what he believed.  It’s a story I tell often.


 

Our family has fought our share battles recently. All of the varying levels of intensity and for different reasons. Some have been fought as a group and some have been taken on singularly, and even internally.

My mom, for example, has fought for my step-dad every day since September 1st.  He was in a car accident and has been in the hospital since then.  Most of the time he hasn’t been fully awake.  She has fought for an adequate level of care. She has fought to keep him alive, more than I believe the doctors have since the first days after the accident.   She has been at the hospital (with the exception of when my brothers’ accident happened) every day she could since the beginning.  My mom with her vigilante style bedside monitoring, and her demand for answers.  She’s fought real hard.   He woke up last week, and I got a phone call from him. He said, “What’s going on, kid?”  That’s always how he started a phone call with me. It was probably the most amazing phone call I’ve ever gotten in my life.  Unfortunately, he did have a bump in his recovery road a couple of days after that phone call.  But, he’s still here.  He’s still fighting.

Today is the 3-month mark since JJ’s accident.  There is no way for anyone to really understand what he must battle with every day.  There’s no way to measure how much he has to fight on a daily basis.  Even in his first days in the hospital, the doctors and nurses all talked about how tenacious he was.  How much strength and determination he had.  And all that was said before he was able to talk.  My family knew he had all that in him.  But I never truly noticed the degree of it until then.  When he would insist on doing things himself when he had 6 very willing family members in his room to help.  When he would surpass every expectation the doctors had set.  Stand with almost full weight on a leg that he doesn’t have full feeling in.  And most recently, when he was told he wouldn’t be on a snowmobile this year.  He showed them all just how much fight he had in him.

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Just from a personal standpoint, my brothers fight aside.  This is what I’ve learned in the last 3 months:  Fighting is hard.  It is exhausting and often tear-inducing.  And because of the recent uptick of occurrences in which going to battle is required, I’ve had to pick them more carefully.

My brother is home from the hospital.  And everyone in the family is ecstatic. We have been looking forward to this for three months.  We knew that the transition would be tough, but I was totally unprepared for how tough it would be at the beginning.  In one week alone, I have cried at 2 different pharmacies trying to pick up my brother’s prescriptions because of issues related to billing.  I’m sure I looked like a lunatic.  And then, inevitably feel immediately embarrassed and start pleading my case as to why I’m not a lunatic and then probably look like even more of a lunatic then I did at the beginning. It’s a vicious cycle.  Anyway, One of the battles we’ve taken on is making the house handicap accessible.  We have been begging for 2 months for someone to come in an access our house.  Get it set up for him so when he got home, he’d be able to be mostly independent.  We were met with every stall tactic and excuse they had.  And I, having never navigated through anything like this before, fell for it.  At this point, there are 5 or 6 different people or companies involved in this.  The caseworker, the caseworkers assistant, the insurance company, the contractor, subcontractor,  and as of today the owner of a very large home modification company.  Everyone is pointing the finger at the other as to why this is taking so long.  I make multiple phone calls a day trying to figure it out but usually end up more confused than I was at the beginning.  Today, I made an extra phone call.  To a lawyer.  As this process goes along, I’m seeing that sometimes you can’t fight your battles alone. And I need help fighting this one.  There won’t be many more niceties.  It’s not personal.  It’s business.

I have yet to find a manual or script anywhere to offer me any guidance on how to fight. The desire alone, to fight, comes from within.  It’s propelled by a person’s heart, gut instinct, and moral compass. And not very often, do those 3 things combined steer you wrong.

 

“If you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and leap” – Butch Hanson

 

 

 

 

Posted in blogging, family, Food, Inspirations, Interview, Maine, Recipe, Travel

Macedonians in Maine: An Interview

I met my husband, Krunoslav on Match.com.  He worked 7 days a week and I worked at a busy Irish Pub.  We both had odd schedules that didn’t afford either of us many opportunities to meet a potential girlfriend/boyfriend.  He sent the first message, I noticed his name was not an American one.  He said he was from Macedonia and that he liked soccer.  I made up a story about needing some info about soccer for something I was working on for the pub. And within only a couple of messages our first date was arranged.  It went well.  So well in fact, we met again the next night.  He watched “Glee” with me and I helped him deliver papers at midnight.  And as they say, the rest is history.

The first time I met his parents was when they made the long trip from Macedonia to Denver for our wedding. Their names spelled phonetically are Nikola and Kruno’s mom is Blageetsa. His mother speaks english “little bit” as she says.  She speaks it better than she thinks.  And his dad can say a few words.  It’s amazing what you can tell about someone without speaking.  Just by observing a single moment.  As I walked towards them coming out of the international arrivals gate, I knew that they were lovely people.

Well, the In-Laws have arrived for another visit.  We have been looking forward to it for months.  For the last few days I have been thinking about what to post.  And this morning it came to me.  An interview with my in-laws.  I wasn’t sure how the request was going to translate.  But, they agreed and thanks so my wonderful husband and his translation services, it went very well.

Q: How did you meet?

B: We met at a party at a restaurant.  We were introduced by friends.

Q: Do you remember your first date?

N: Not the specifics, but it lasted awhile.  It was the next day after the party and we had our first kiss.

Q:What is Skopje, Macedonia like?

N: It’s very historical (dates back to 4000 b.c.) . Similar to the Old Port portion of Portland.  Our house is in the Suburbs of the capital, Skopje. It’s a very tight-knit community.  Learn more about Skopje, Macedonia Here.

Q: What are some customs or traditions of Macedonia during the holidays?

B: On Christmas Eve (usually on or around January 7th as they use the orthodox calendar), we make a loaf a bread and put a coin in it.  When we sit down to dinner we each take a piece, and also have a piece for family afar and Jesus.  Whoever gets the piece with the coin, it will be their lucky year.  For us Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about family and emphasis is on the meal with family.  On August 2nd, we celebrate our Independence from Turkey. It’s like your 4th of July.

Q: What is the biggest difference between your country and the US?

B & N: How friendly people are here.  Whenever you go into a shop or store.  People greet you.  They say “hello” and “how are you”.  People don’t do that in Skopje.  The other thing, is that people seem so busy here.  We work either the same or more hours per week back home, but aren’t always in a hurry.  We have time to spend with family and friends.  Back home, families only have 1 car.  Here, everyone has a car to get where they need to go quickly.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Macedonia?

N:  Family.  Not just the family as in people but the sense of family and community.  Kruno added – Our country was recently in a way.  It went though a very hard time and what got people through that, was family.  It’s very important there.

What is the hardest part of international travel?

B: Being bored on the long flight.

N: Blageetsa being bored on the flight.  She kept getting up and moving around.

~ They did add, that being in the last row was nice.  It seemed a little less cramped then the other flight.  I asked if they minded the long wait to disembark the plane.  They both agreed that it wasn’t a big deal.  They are far more patient than I.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve eaten while in the US?

B:  Yummy Chicken (A family recipe of mine, find it here)


 

It’s interesting how a short visit with someone can give you so much perspective.  How different families and different cultures go through life.  I always thought that my family was an affectionate group.  We pale in comparison.  The love my in-laws have to give is immeasurable.  When they said during the interview how important family is, it was an understatement.  They love with their whole hearts, their whole being.  I can’t count how many times I’ve been told “I love you” Or “Kristinia (kruno’s sister) says she loves you”. And it’s not just me.  It’s to all members of my family, and friends.  People they have only met one, maybe two times.  Their second day here, they asked to go see my brother in the hospital.  They talk about him everynight.  They’ll ask how he is doing today, if I’ve talked to him. They’ll tell me how much they love him and that they pray for him. They share memories of their first trip here and the people they met.  How our friends are lovely people, and how nice they were, how much love they have for them because they are our friends. The language barrier is tricky to navigate, but when sharing a feeling they are able to communicate with ease.

I knew it the first time I met them and I know it now.  They are some of the most kind, generous and loving people I have ever met.  And I am so very lucky to have the Petrov family as my in-laws.  I couldn’t have asked for better.

 

 

 

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The Petrov’s First Thanksgiving!