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cover photo by Anna Sawin at GourmAvian Farms



Bolton's Best: The Birch Mountain Heirloom Tomato by Carole Miller

PG. 16 Second to the Plate by Kelley Citroni

PG. 30 Spring Chickens - A Guide to Keeping Your Own by Michelle Firestone

PG. 40 Springtime at the Farm by Rebecca Hansen

PG. 50 Love Me Tender: A Guide to Connecticut's Asparagus by Winter Caplanson

PG. 60 Tough as Nails: The Love and Labor of a Farrier by Hilary Adorno

PG. 74 Saving Seeds - A Graceful Habit by Laura Graham

PG. 84 CT Farmers' Tried and True Seed Selections by Laura Graham

PG. 90 Fresh Fish Steeped in Tradition by Laura Graham

PG. 98 Grand and Grass-Fed: What you Need to Know About American Bison by Winter Caplanson

PG. 114 Herbal Lollipops for Health and Healing by Jessica Giordani and Stacey Wood

Anna Sawin

PG. 118 Contributors/Recipe Index

Winter Caplanson 4

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

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Bolton's Best: The Birch Mountain Heirloom Tomato

By Carole Miller Winter Caplanson & Maya Oren Photos How fortunate we are today to have the diverse flavors of heirloom tomatoes, thanks to the generosity of those who garden; they’ve have shared their plants, seeds, and knowledge. “It’s all about the seed,” proclaimed Bob Morra as we sat in the shade at Topmost Herb Farm in Coventry on a late summer day and reminisced of the Italian farmers who settled on Birch Mountain in Bolton, and the journey of the delicious heirloom tomato they brought with them.

Winter Caplanson

The term “heirloom” is often vague and carelessly used, particularly in commerce, due to its recent rise in popularity; but, it refers to a plant’s heritage. Originally used in the 1940s to describe vegetables of superb taste, the label aimed to differentiate fruit from their alternative hybrids bred for commercial sale. More often than not, mass-produced produce is appealing for its attractive uniformity. These veggies’ thick skins enable them to withstand mechanical harvesting and lengthy travel to market, and as an unfortunate result, flavor has been sacrificed. A dramatic change takes place in fruits and vegetables when they are shipped from California to Connecticut. Heirlooms fell out of favor because of their thinner skins and fragility causing seed suppliers to drop many of the old selections. Primarily, a variety referred to as an heirloom is open-pollinated, meaning that pollination occurs naturally and without human interference (most commonly by bees). Seed saved from these plants, unlike hybrids, will produce offspring that are exact replicas, assuring the survival of the variety. ctfoodandfarm.com


Winter Caplanson

Topmost Herb Farm is growing 33 varieties of heirloom tomatoes this spring, including the Birch Mountain Tomato.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Generally, heirlooms are grown from seed that’s been hand-selected from the best plants and shared with family and friends who in turn, save seed from their own plants to pass along to others for the next season. The cycle continues for generations; a number of varieties available in the U.S. today have been harvested for anywhere from 50 to 100 years.

Descriptions of heirloom tomato varieties often read like a wine list, aptly describing the joy of eating a sun-ripened tomato directly from the vine and letting the juice dribble down your chin.

Descriptions of heirloom tomato varieties often read like a wine list, aptly describing the joy of eating a sun-ripened tomato directly from the vine and letting the juice dribble down your chin. (Amy Goldman, who lectured at UConn in 2014, recently published The Heirloom Tomato with exquisite photos of her favorites.) Topmost Herb Farm offers 30 varieties of heirloom tomato plants each spring, and the Birch Mountain Tomato is rapidly rising to the top of the preferred list. Often featured in local specialty markets, heirloom tomatoes have become a staple at farmers’ markets and farm stands, as well as star performers in tomato tastings. As a result, the public is becoming more educated in the value of an heirloom’s superior taste and nutrient value. It’s not unusual at tasting events to hear people announce their delight in discovering remarkable flavor; there are often requests for seconds! A Birch Mountain plant is sturdy, tall, and heavily produces these blocky, squarish delights in a normal growing season. (They easily reach 6’ by the time of first frost.) They’re terrific in fresh salads as well as sauce. An added bonus is its low acid content, not often seen in red tomatoes. As Morra explained, it’s difficult to change customers’ perception that a tomato used in cooking must have that perfectly plum, pointed teardrop shape; however, a following of loyal customers has developed at his farm stand on Birch Mountain, and he his happy to report that customers have “one taste and they’re hooked!” In fact, they’re often referred to as “Bob Morra’s tomatoes.” The Morra family emigrated from the rocky Italian Alpine region of Pumonte and it's easy to assume that Birch Mountain reminded them of home, as it has done so for many Italian families. Bob has grown the Birch Mountain Tomato for 18 years from seed originally



obtained from his cousins in Italy. He confessed that he doesn’t actually know its original name, as “it was just the one the family always grew.” While saving the best seed of every generation, Bob also shared them with family and friends. After I told him that I was interested in adding it to Topmost’s list, he passed along extra seed to our friend Ray Soma, who to shared his with me. Later, I gave one of the plants to Winter Caplanson who will save seed – and that’s how heirlooms often begin their journey toward preservation. Bob and I both admit to a bit of paranoia about not saving enough seed, misplacing it, or having a bad growing year, but we’ve become more confident in its perpetuation now that more individuals possess the seed of this delightful tomato. There were healthy, beautiful Birch Mountains for tasting that summer day, from both Morra and Bailey Farms. Videographer Maya Oren, Bailey Farm Co-Owner Nick Caplanson, and I joined in tasting while Bob pointed out the meatiness of the tomatoes, their average size, and their small seeds and seed cavities. The tomatoes were awarded high praise and a variety of superlatives attesting to their flavor. Bob’s favorite preparation is olive oil, minced garlic, and finely minced parsley served over freshly-sliced tomatoes.

A quick internet search will result in several techniques of saving tomato seed. The highly technical “Morra Method” is as follows: Bob cuts a beautifully ripe Birch Mountain tomato into chunks, drops them into a fine sieve, and rinses off the gel. He then rubs the remains with a spoon around the sides of the sieve while rinsing, getting rid of the majority of that which is not seed, and dumps the remains onto wax paper to dry. When thoroughly desiccated, he stores the seeds in an envelope in the refrigerator. His germination is near 100%; there’s no arguing with that kind of success.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Winter Caplanson

Opinions on seed life vary, but most published figures agree on approximately 10 years; Bob believes that when properly stored, seed life can be longer than that. Of course, there are variables including how the seeds were harvested, processed and stored, and the ever-present element of luck.

How fortunate we are today to have the diverse flavors of heirloom tomatoes, thanks to the generosity of those who garden; they’ve have shared their plants, seeds, and knowledge.

Carole Miller, Topmost Herb Farm: "This tomato belongs to Connecticut! It is rapidly becoming a favorite, thanks to the efforts of generations of hard-working Italian farmers who live on Birch Mountain in Bolton."



Maya Oren

Bob Morra cuts a beautifully ripe Birch Mountain tomato. "Look at that! That's a tomato! Just awesome, if I say so myself."

Learn more about Topmost Herb Farms and the Birch Mountain tomato in this exclusive video by Mojalvo. 12

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

When to plant? Historically, the answer is Memorial Day. Of late, the weather has been more unpredictable than ever. Tomato plants like their roots in warm soil and full sun with consistent watering. Play it safe and wait until Memorial Day as healthy tomato plants are too valuable to lose to a late spring frost. The 1950s was the peak era of farming in the Italian community on Birch Mountain. Bob quickly recalled 10 or 12 Italian families, the majority of which grew a variety of vegetables on large acreages. Most arrived in New York in the 1920s, having been sponsored by families already established in the United States. Bob’s grandparents, like so many others, found immediate work in the Cheney Mills until they purchased their land on the Mountain. These industrious farmers worked together to market their vegetables, make their own deliveries,

and form their own cooperative. Birch Mountain Grown, as well as each farmer’s own brand, became a familiar sight at high-end restaurants and specialty markets in New York City. (Both Bob and Ray Soma possess cherished advertising material from this era.) It soon became apparent to buyers that Birch Mountain vegetables not only outrivaled competitors in flavor, but had a longer shelf life than those from New Jersey. The trend lasted until the mid-1960s when produce started arriving from California and the scope of the farming industry changed dramatically.

Birch Mountain’s family farms set the bar high for premium produce and passed on their knowledge to their children. Sadly, many of them are gone today; but, their descendants occupy portions of the original farms and continue to grow first-rate fruits and vegetables. A drive along lovely Birch Mountain Rd. will lead you to Bob Morra’s stand on one side of the road, and Anthony Fiano’s stand on the other. Tony’s family emigrated from Southern Italy, resulting in a slightly different end product, albeit just as tasty. His niece Arleen calls it the “Fiano Tomato;” we need to set aside time this summer to speak with Tony! The 2016 Heirloom Tomato Plant list is available on Topmost Herb Farm’s website.

Maya Oren

During the prime years of Birch Mountain vegetables and the Bolton Produce Packers Association, bulk business thrived at regional markets both in Manchester and Hartford where wholesalers would converge to bid on

large lots of fresh vegetables. The market in Hartford expanded and still prospers today.



Pasta with Tomatoes and Brie

Maya Oren

Makes 4-6 servings

This recipe was originally from the Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. The key to this recipe is its simplicity. Find the ripest tomatoes and the highest-quality cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and pasta you can, then let the components shine. While the recipe calls for Brie, any soft, buttery cheese can be substituted. We used Melville by Mystic Cheese Co., one of our favorites. The recipe calls for fresh linguine, but any style fresh pasta can be substituted. This recipe can easily be adapted to add other ingredients such as baby spinach, capers, olives, roasted garlic, bacon, chicken, grilled shrimp, etc. Have fun making it your own! Start this recipe early in the day as the tomato mixture needs to marinate two to eight hours.

Preparation 1. Combine tomatoes, Brie, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare Ingredients two to eight hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature. The whole house 4 medium, perfectly ripe tomatoes, cut into smells delicious whiles this is marinating. ½-inch cubes 2. Bring six quarts of water to a boil in a large 1 lb. Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into pot. Add the linguine and boil until al dente, irregular pieces per directions on the package. 1 c. fresh basil leaves, washed and cut into ribbons 3. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and add gently to the tomato mixture right away. Gently toss until 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced the cheese has begun to melt and the pasta is ½ c. high-quality extra virgin olive oil coated. Serve immediately with freshly-grated Salt and pepper to taste Parmesan cheese. 1 ½ pounds linguine Fresh-grated imported Parmesan cheese

Rich Roclin


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

by Kelley Citroni Photos by Winter Caplanson, Lisa Nichols, and Rich Rochlin




an effective batting lineup, you must consider the specific roles played, the purposes they serve, and how each batter contributes to the overall success of the team. First at bat is chosen for his or her skill, speed, and track record, no doubt. That player has a clear and singular goal involving no one but themselves. True strategy comes into the equation as we move down the line-up. If a player does more than one thing well, a coach should be prepared to capitalize upon any and all of those qualities. This begs the question: who goes next? Second to the plate is known as a “sacrifice specialist.” Once number one is on base, it’s number two who must advance the runner – a job that routinely requires forfeiture of individual applause for the sake of the team’s well being. This term couldn’t be a more fitting taxonomy for a kitchen’s second-in-command. Following the executive chef ’s lead, every decision “#2” makes will dictate the group’s potential achievement. This individual must look forward and backward simultaneously, stand at-the-ready to take and give orders, put out fires (literally, on occasion), decide when it’s appropriate to teach or tell, and be at peace with the fact that he or she will shoulder blame more often than accept praise.

Lisa Nichols

No two kitchens, executive chefs, or restaurants operate the exact same way, but the expectations of this very special individual don’t budge. In order to illustrate this concept, CT Food and Farm Magazine recently sat down with three talented and dynamic chefs who play the major support roles to their respective executive counterparts.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Rich Roclin

Chefs Matthew Backe of Rooster Co. in Newington, Niles Talbot of Millwright’s Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury, and Matthew Wick of River Tavern in Chester each shared with me the hierarchy of their kitchens, their day-to-day obligations, and those of their direct reports; these three report strikingly similar professional roles.

The Grand Pecking Order Subsequent to the executive chef, the pecking order at Millwright’s – both in front and back of house – is classically French. The traditional “Brigade de cuisine” system assigns finite responsibilities with military-like ranks; the chain of command is unquestionable. While subsets within each position exist, the main players are: Chef de cuisine (CDC): handles overall management of kitchen, creates new recipes, maintains sanitary standards;

Sous-chef de cuisine: reports to CDC, supervises staff, acts as representative when CDC is not present;

Chef de partie: heads up a specific station;

Cuisiner: independent cook;

Commis: junior cook;

Garde manger: prepares cold dishes, charcuterie items, and salads;

Tournant: floats throughout kitchen and proactively assesses upcoming needs; and

Pâtissier: prepares pastries, breads, and baked items.

The list of potential Brigade positions can grow to as many as fifty, although the instances when they are all occupied by different bodies is more the exception than the rule nowadays. In the restaurant and tavern proper, CDC Jesse Powers and Sous Chef Niles Talbot equally support Executive Chef Tyler Anderson.

In addition, Talbot fills the CDC role for the latest of Chef Anderson's seemingly-endless endeavors: The Workshop at Millwright's. Talbot describes The Workshop as a test kitchen of sorts, allowing him and Anderson a creative outlet where new recipes can be tested in a tasting menu format. "I'd like to think of it as



Rich Roclin

“I'd like to think of it as our sandbox. It's honestly a place for trying out whimsical, fun, and sometimes, weird shit. ” – Niles Talbot


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Chef de Cuisine Matthew Wick operates within a slightly different format at River Tavern. Executive Chef Jonathan Rapp, also founder and proprietor of near by OTTO, extends Chef Wick total freedom which includes menu design and staff oversight. "I do my best to avoid involving Chef Rapp with anything unnecessary," shares Wick. "That being said, he is always there when I need him." Within this context, Chef Wick is unyielding in his enthusiasm for the tight relationships he has with his Sous Chefs Manuel Moguio and Juan Pablo Capa who together shoulder a number of the same daily responsibilities as Wick. Same goes for Line Cooks Juan Yanza, Pablo Portilla, and Justo Ortiz, who've mastered all menu items, enabling them to bounce from station to station, as needed. Dishwashers Carlos Ali and Diego Saca are constantly being cross-trained, as well. This is perhaps the most noteworthy practice that separates Chef Wick and his team from the customary Brigade system: Wick operates atop a pyramid, while Millwright's is best described as a delineated food chain. Rooster Co. represents another intimation still. Chef and Co-Founder Kenneth "KC" Ward is in practice the executive chef, although he admittedly isn't concerned with the title. Chef Backe describes Ward as the chef de cuisine, and his own designation as sous chef. A synopsis of Wick's, Talbot's, and Backe's average workday exemplifies that their technical titles rarely make a tangible difference in their daily obligations.

our sandbox. It's honestly a place for trying out whimsical, fun, and sometimes, weird shit. Whenever we feel inspired by a new idea and wonder if it'll resonate with our diners, we have the freedom to find out through The Workshop." In Talbot's hybridized position which straddles the two ranks, Anderson shares that Talbot and Powers act together as his main supports. That way, Anderson always has a primary representative in the kitchen.

The Daily Grind

Legendary pitcher Earl Wilson once described baseball as "simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings" - another fantastic allegory for the daily grind of a lunch and dinner service. Because Rooster Co. and River Tavern serve lunch daily, while Millwright's offers lunch on Fridays only, our featured chefs' work days start on a slightly staggered schedule; it's perhaps the only major variable when comparing and contrasting.



Late Morning to Midday: Chefs arrive to work and immediately refer to the prep list (created after closing the prior evening); interface with employees who've already arrived, and check the status of priority projects underway. Upon Chef Backe's arrival, lunch service has begun, being carried out by two line cooks. As such, Backe's focus is two-fold: tackle any of Chef Ward's immediate priorities while looking ahead to dinner service. At River Tavern, Chef Wick's sous chefs "hold it down" for lunch service, but not before collaborating with him to finalize the lunch menu. Lisa Nichols

“KC and I can easily challenge one another without taking petty punches.� – Matthew Backe


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Next up is receiving deliveries, placing orders, checking inventory, and inspecting the coolers and pantry; this is when Chef Talbot joins the party. He and Chef Powers work in partnership to assign the most time-sensitive tasks to their direct reports and often handle the day's butchering. As should be the case, Talbot is capable of completing every task in the kitchen, top to bottom, which means he's there to fill in the gaps, on top of keeping his team on schedule. "Part of my job is to create a sense of urgency, to be in constant contact with my cooks to make sure everything goes off like clockwork." Backe shares that receiving and checking deliveries, while administrative in nature, requires painstaking attention to detail; it's more than checking items off a list. "I can't stress enough the importance of physically touching every item. It allows for quality checks and if need be, the time required to make menu changes based on supply availability." Because all three restaurants rely on local farms for produce and artisan-made products (sources whose offerings often fluctuate), the need for contingency reigns king. "You have to accept the fact there is always something beyond your control," he confesses.

Lisa Nichols ctfoodandfarm.com


Winter Caplanson


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

The team at Millwright’s practices a special ritual before dinner service: a traditional family meal. First and foremost, it ensures that nothing is wasted. Leftover items are often repurposed, a practice that lends itself to staying cost-effective while allowing room for creativity. Talbot values both the preparation for and execution of family meals. "I try to encourage our cooks to take advantage of the freedom to try new things; they get the chance to show initiative. We get a chance to sit down together, connect, and take a few moments to be silly. It's also when I make certain that everyone familiarize themselves with the entire menu, making sure to be as informed as possible before engaging with guests. Similarly, Chef Wick makes sure his front-of-house co-workers enjoy a meal after their lunch or dinner shift. Servers and kitchen staff at Rooster Co. and River Tavern are kept apprised of and sample new items in groups, coordinated by the shifts they work. Our seconds-in-command shine the brightest as tickets start rolling in. They work specific stations if need be, and act as tournants in supporting the most immediate needs. No dish is assembled without constant and thorough communication, and all pass through the "vice chairman's" hands before they’re handed to a server or food runner. "When I'm in the thick of it, I still have to maintain a view of the big picture," says Backe. "Just when you wrap up the first course, you're staring down the barrel of the next. I rely on our expediter to help me manage that balance. It would be impossible to handle all three and still maintain the high level of quality to which we aspire. In a way, that person needs to read the whole book, while each member of the kitchen is responsible for their own chapter." Talbot shares the same sentiment. "Jesse and I work in tandem to support our executive chef  and we pick up slack for one another. If we didn't, it would be a disservice to our guests and Chef Tyler's mission and core values."

Winter Caplanson

Afternoon and Dinner Service:

“No one understands the absurdity of this trade like a fellow chef. We're not normal people.” – Mattew Wick



Upon dinner's wrap-up, Chefs Backe, Talbot, and Wick delegate the evening's clean-up tasks and review the day's events with their staff. On top of a well-deserved beverage, it's a time of catharsis and reflection, both of which define the following day's priorities. The appropriate lists are made, any pertinent issues are troubleshot, and the crew is ready to start again. The daily life of a chef is wrought with mental and physical exhaustion. In a creative industry, you're only as good as your next work. With that in mind, a #2 often spends more time seeking new ways to improve and accepting responsibility for any hiccups before ever taking the time to celebrate a successful service.

Dispelling The Myths

The stereotypical mental image of a rage-filled, high-volume kitchen where each rank berates the next makes for sensational optics, that's not the reality, says Wick. All three chefs find little value in putting down their crew members and make special efforts to encourage growth. Chef Wick says that he tries to involve everyone in the creative process. "I love when a sous chef suggests his own modifications to a recipe," he says. "It's incredibly inspiring for me to witness. They draw upon their cultures and previous knowledge, and fuse them with they've learned at the restaurant. My guys aren’t robots. As a result, I've tried foods that I've never had or even heard of." Backe seconds Wick: "Why would I ever discourage an employee from trying their hand at something new? It enhances our collective skill set and increases job satisfaction." Another hackneyed portrayal of a commercial kitchen involves explosive tempers and dramatic conflict between craftsmen. It's naïve to think that irritabilities don't rear their heads, but the ability to calmly mediate conflict directly influences the restaurant's success. "I'm big on constantly analyzing why a task is carried out a certain way. If a more efficient alternative is presented, then I'll adopt it. All input should be sized up on its merits, regardless of the person volunteering it." Matt smiles and adds, "if it doesn't chap my ass, then I'm fine with proactive changes." Wick agrees that "being competitive and guarded doesn't do anything for me."


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

When it comes to mediating conflict, all feel comfortable reaching out to their executive chefs while maintaining respect for rank. "If there's a problem, we talk about it and squash it," says Talbot. "My job is to help Tyler do his; there's zero room for conceit or defensiveness." In the same way, Backe finds no point in being aggressive. "KC and I can easily challenge one another without taking petty punches."

Rich Roclin

Group Therapy In what is often a thankless and brutal profession, an aspect that Chefs Wick, Backe, and Talbot revere is the brotherhood inherent to the industry. "There's no small talk required when meeting on of your own," says Talbot. "Once you find you have that in common with someone, a spontaneous and unspoken camaraderie materializes. We need that. By trade, we're suckers for punishment and

group therapy is imperative." Adds Wick, "no one understands the absurdity of this trade like a fellow chef. We're not normal people." Reaching out to contemporaries in the industry creates longtime friendships, as well. Wick values his closeness with Bill and Jeff Taibe of Kawa Ni in Westport. "I drive down there to vent, bounce



Lisa Nichols 28

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

“What can I say? The man’s a wizard. I’m honored to be the Riker to his Picard,’ he says with an appropriate cringe” – Matthew Backe

off ideas, and try their amazing food. Cooks are very curious about what one another are up to." Chef Ryan Jones of Tariffville’s The Mill at 2T and Chef Ed Jones III of Firebox (no relation) have been friends and mentors of Talbot's for years. "Both are powerhouses and total badasses in the kitchen. Plus, we root for each other. Together, we're coming of age and it evokes pride and causes motivation to see a peer excel." Among others, Backe looks to his own executive chef, KC Ward, with whom he's been friends for more than a decade. "What can I say? The man's a wizard. I'm honored to be the Commander Ricker to his Picard," he says with appropriate cringe. Thank you, sacrifice specialists. A kitchen's success hinges on your ceaseless and constantly-growing talent. You are a protégé to your executive chef and a mentor to your staff. You unify your team, you impress your colleagues and diners, and your versatility creates systemic triumph.



SPRING CHICKENS a guide to keeping your own •  B y M i c h e l l e F i r e s t o n e

•  A n n a S a w i n P h o t o s



Gorgeous, sunny egg yolks, succulent poultry, and knowing exactly where your food comes from: these are vital benefits of keeping your own chickens. Melissa Shea of GourmAvian Farms says that's just the beginning. Owned by Gary Proctor, GourmAvian Farms raises chickens for both meat and eggs; meat birds are raised in Voluntown, egg-layers live in Brooklyn, and the business is headquartered in Bolton.

Looking to learn more about keeping your own coop? Melissa kindly took the time to share with us the "101" of keeping chickens at home. Before purchasing or building anything, she advised, it's paramount to do your homework. Compared to other farm animals, chickens are relatively low-maintenance, but that doesn't mean that raising and caring for them is easy, either. Selecting the proper breeds, constructing a safe and sufficient shelter, providing daily love and labor – all these elements and more represent the complexity of the commitment you make when choosing to care for animals.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Purchasing Chickens The best time of year to purchase chickens is springtime, as the warmer temperatures make it easier to brood. In Connecticut, purchasing hardy birds is ideal; they're well-suited for the climate. Rhode Island Reds and Orpingtons are breeds that thrive in New England. Melissa recommends starting with six to eight chickens; they're extremely social animals. Even if you would ultimately like more than that, it's easier to start small and build your way up. Once you know the number of chickens your space and time can accommodate, Melissa feels, "the more, the merrier." Living Quarters Two elements are required when constructing your chickens' home: a grassy area, fenced around and overhead with chicken wire, and a coop within it. The coop should be well-ventilated and have separate and spacious areas for roosting poles (where the ladies sleep) and nesting boxes for egg-laying. Inside the coop, cover the floor with kiln-dried pine shavings to collect droppings. The number of chickens will dictate the size of the pen you create; Melissa advises allotting three square feet per bird.

" Melissa recommends starting with six to eight chickens; they're extremely social animals."

of number e h t ow you kn time " Once e and c a p s s, s your sa feel s chicken i l e M ate, commod .'   " can ac errier m e h t re, ‘ the mo

“ Compared to oth er far m an ima ls, chi cke ns ar e rel ati vel y low -m ain ten an ce, bu t tha t doesn't mean that raising and car ing for

them is easy, either. "




CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Zoning Regulations Checking in with your town's or city's zoning regulations is par t of due diligence. Due to the volume of a rooster's crowing, some areas do not allow private residences to have them; others limit the number of roosters allowed. Make the necessary phone calls to your town officials. It'll ensure that your project is above board and keep you from any needless headaches or expenditures. Feeding In addition to grain, which is both affordable and readily available (such as CCC Feeds and Farm Supply in Manchester), chickens are fantastic for reducing or eliminating wasted food in your household – they can be fed scraps from the table such as vegetables and fruit peels. Food and water must be checked daily and refilled when needed. Collect your eggs every night before closing the coop. (If you leave the coop open, predators may wipe out your entire flock in one evening.) Although not required, many chicken owners enjoy using what is known as a "chicken tractor." It's essentially a portable chicken coop; picture a moveable pen with an open bottom, built out of chicken wire and containing a small hutch which houses roosts and nesting boxes. Two corners have wheels so that it can be pushed like a wheelbarrow. Parking the chicken tractor in different parts of your lawn or pasture for a couple of days is win-win: the chickens enjoy access to a new space while being safe from predators, and the owners get free pest control and lawn care out of it. Grass, small bugs, and even toads will fall prey to your flock.

Egg Production Chickens typically begin laying eggs at around five months old. They may be purchased as chicks or as started pullets and 15-22 weeks of age. Daylight is the deciding factor in the timing of egg production. For a high yield, chickens require 14-16 hours of sunlight each day. In Connecticut , of course, that doesn't happen on its own. During darker, colder months, the number of eggs laid will simply decrease in proportion. Likewise, during spring and summer, the number of eggs will increase. Supplement natural light with artificial to prolong your chickens' egg-laying cycle. Don't be concerned if your hens don't lay eggs  every day;  that's natural, says Melissa Breed  plays a  factor, as well.  Leghorns, for example, are prolific egg-layers. "They're exceptional. You could easily get one egg per day," she commended. As a hen ages, she lays fewer eggs. There's no hard and fast formula to determine when your hens will become less productive. Melissa mentions that she has colleagues and friends with 10-year-old birds that still actively lay. no prob Chick Hatching Take pause before you decide to hatch your own eggs, advises Melissa. It's laborious and expensive, although not difficult. While a bigger obligation, hatching chicks at home can be a wonderful experience for families, especially those with children. Naturally, roosters are needed to create fertilized eggs. It takes 21 days for an egg to hatch. You can choose to let your hens



incubate their own eggs, or you can do it yourself in an incubator. (Incubators keep the temperature constant and run you roughly $200.) Regardless of which hatching method you choose, chicks require supplemental heat for the first several weeks of their lives. For this, you will use a brooder, or pen with a heat lamp, in which newly-hatched chicks are contained and kept warm. Upon hatching, a chick's living environment must be kept at 95째F for the first week; decrease the temperature 5째 per week until you reach 70-75째F. At that point, chicks no longer need supplemental heat and can be slowly integrated into the rest of the flock in the coop. Meat Birds Raising chickens for meat versus eggs requires very similar practices in regards to living space, feed, and sanitation. Melissa recommends Cornish Cross breeds. If you're looking to raise a bird for its meat alone, it will be ready for slaughter in six to eight weeks. For dual-purpose chickens (used for both eggs and meat), wait twice as long. GourmAvian Farms processes its meat in Johnston, RI under USDA inspection. There are no USDA-inspected chicken processing facilities in CT. Sanitary Practices And Illness Always wash your hands after handling chickens and their eggs. Because chickens are susceptible to avian influenza, Melissa shared that GourmAvian Farms doesn't allow visitors onto the property; the disease can easily be carried on clothing and shoes. Coops and their surrounding pens should be cleaned once a week; coops should be disinfected at least twice a year. Those who travel between multiple farms should power-wash their vehicle in between stops.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016



In the event that a chicken becomes ill, it is best to euthanize it quickly and humanely by snapping or severing its neck. If you are concerned about doing so, reach out to a vet or local farm for guidance. Taste And See The Difference If you've never enjoyed a farm fresh egg, sunny-side up with some toast, please do so immediately. Before digging in, you can see that a local egg yolk has a more vibrant color, in addition to having a richer texture, while the whites hold more firmly than commercial eggs. These qualities lend themselves to creating gorgeous and airy baked goods, too. Resources Both chicks and started pullets can bepurchased through Moyer's Chicks in Quakerstown, PA. Chicks are hatched with some residual yolk filling their stomachs. This allows them to travel through the mail without needing food or water. In most cases, boxes of chicks will arrive at your post office, healthy and chirping up a storm, and you will get an early morning call to come pick them up! Feed stores often stock chicks in the springtime, also. The Connecticut Poultry Swap and Chat Facebook Page is a wonderful resource for questions and ideas.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016



The winter thaw is one of our favorite times of year. It’s when the world starts to warm

and signs of life emerge. We all come out of

a collective hibernation and begin to stretch towards the sun. Sleeves get a little shorter,

steps get a little lighter, and, on the farm, the magic starts to happen. Spring is the season

of hope and of change. And what better way to celebrate than getting back to our roots,

digging into the dirt, and embracing nature?

It’s time to get back on the farm!

Winter Caplanson 42

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

March Oak Leaf Dairy- Meet the new crop of baby goats in Lebanon, weekends from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in March, and visit the cheese tasting room. The farm shop stocks goat's milk, chevre, feta, and goat milk cheddar, jars of buttery

goat's milk caramel with a hint of cinnamon, and farm made goat's milk soaps. Bee Keeping Workshops - While the full Bee School is held in February,

the Connecticut Beekeepers Association is proud to sponsor workshops for amateur and seasoned apiarists alike. The March Workshop takes place on

March 26 at Massaro Farm in Woodbridge and will provide essential hands-on demonstrations. (Other bee farms, like Beekind Farm in Greenwich and Red Bee Apiary in Weston also offer their own workshop series.)

Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm - There are so many reasons to visit Ekonk Hill in

Moosup, but chief among them in the spring is the opening of their creamery. The Brown Cow Cafe celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2016, which in our opinion, is a decade well spent.

April Music Fridays at Cassidy Hill Vineyard - Every Friday from 6:00 p.m. –

9:00 p.m., the staff at Cassidy Hill Vineyard in Coventry hosts a live band to "pair" with its wine tasting schedule. Bring a picnic, order a bottle, and get

down. Just remember, this is strictly a no-kids shindig. (There are plenty of stops on the CT Wine Trail and CT Beer Trail that offer similar late-night concerts. Check out your resident maker for spring schedules.)

Cooking Classes at Jones Family Farm - Experience farm-to-table first

hand at one of the Jones Family Farm cooking courses. Using locally-sourced food alongside wine pairings from the Farm’s Winery in Shelton, the classes begin early April and last through fall.

UCONN Animal Barns - While the Animal and Agricultural Science students (on the Storrs campus) are happy to share their knowledge all year long,

things kick into full gear come springtime. Watch baby calves take their first

steps or see the seedlings peek up through the soil. Admire the Thoroughbreds in the stables then head to the Dairy Bar to cool off.

Ambler Farm Spring Fling - On April 30, the town of Wilton gathers for

pancakes with a side of maple syrup, made on-site. Watch a sheep-shearing demonstration, feed the animals, and take home seeds to sow at home.

107th Sheep, Wool, & Fiber Festival - The Connecticut Sheep Breeders

Association gathers at the Tolland Agricultural Center on April 30 to show

off both flockand stock. Head over to meet the herd and speak directly with farmers and breeders to learn more about the season's iconic animal.

Clatter Ridge Farm Sheep Pastured at Hill-Stead Museum - See the

Shetland rams, ewes, and lambs and purchase woolen goods made from their fleece in the museum shop. While there, hike the trails of the picturesque 152-acre estate through pond habitat, meadows, low land, low bush, and forests. 44

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Winter Caplanson



May Arethusa Farm - A farm with fashionable beginnings (its owners were the

President and Vice President of Manolo Blahnik in the Americas), Arethusa

boasts a rich history and champion cows. With a mission to produce the best milk possible, owners George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis have carved

out a dairy nexus in the Litchfield Hills. Their dairy store features frequent

cheese pairings and the farm’s restaurant, Arethusa al Tavolo (home to Chef Dan Magill, a current 2016 James Beard Awards Semi-Finalist for Best Chef, Northeast), comprises locally-sourced, farm-raised ingredients.

Founders’ May Fair – On May 16, join the vernal welcoming at New Pond

Farm in West Redding; this annual celebration is the only time of year when it’s culturally appropriate for grown men and women to skip around a pole

with flowers in their hair: the Maypole Dance. It's a joyous occasion featuring farm demonstrations alongside arts and crafts to keep the entire family entertained.

Spring on the Farm Festival Weekend at Hecksher Farm, Stamford Museum & Nature Center – The Spring on the Farm Festival, Saturday,

May 14 and Sunday, May 15, celebrates the newest additions to the Hecksher Farm family. Food trucks refresh visitors while homegrown artists exhibit

their wares. Hayrides, museum tours, face-painting, and llama-trekking all

come with the price of admission, and The Museum's Galleries will present "Art on a String: Asian Kites in Flight."


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Ashley Caroline Photographer



Winter Caplanson 48

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

June June means strawberry picking! So many small family establisments such as Pesce’s Farm in Bolton offer wonderful pick-your-own options, or you can choose one of the bigger, family-fun driven strawberry picking activities at

Shelton’s Jones Family Farm or Lyman Orchards in Middlefield. These sweet, juicy fruits herald the start of the pick-your-own season, which lasts well

into the fall. And speaking of self-harvesting, at Rose’s Berry Farm in South Glastonbury, late June brings the first batch of raspberries.

With the summer sun on its way, the Canterbury-based Burgis Brook Alpacas will be out in full force! Known for making some wonderful

knitting wool, the alpacas’ soft coat is sheared on site. However, summer is one of the farm’s busiest seasons, so be sure to call ahead before visiting. Hilltop Farm in Suffield celebrates Connecticut Open House Day on

June 11 by opening up their grounds to the public. One particular draw

is their butterfly garden. After watching the magic of these colorful beauties, stroll through the fields and pastures and say hello to the ladies (the hens, that is.)

On June 23, Eddy Farm in Newington kicks off a summer tradition: their Farm Dinner Series. The season’s inaugural event will feature Chef

Tim Marotto of Goldburgers (also in Newington). All food is sourced locally, and you can pick up tickets by stopping by the restaurant before the event.



Love Me TENDER A Guide to Connecticut's Asparagus Written & Photographed by Winter Caplanson


fter maple sugaring is done and ramp season has come and gone, the first spears of asparagus begin to emerge, around the same time as peach blossoms: mid-May. Asparagus can catch a farmer by surprise. “We’re cutting brush and thinking about planting corn, and nothing is happening in the asparagus patch,” says C.J. Pogmore, who farms with his brother, father, and grandfather at Bluebird Hill in Lebanon. “But, you get a couple of warm days and mild nights and maybe a good rain, and suddenly the asparagus is coming on strong!” Indeed, asparagus can grow as much as 6" in a single, perfect spring day. Asparagus needs a cold season to go dormant. It thrives in sandy loam which makes up a good portion of the prime farmland soil in Connecticut. And asparagus likes water. Snow cover melting gradually, combined with spring rain, can lead to water at deep levels in the soil, contributing to a healthy root system and a prolific asparagus crop. While the season lasts only three to four weeks here, it’s a much anticipated first taste of Connecticut produce bought up quickly by local food fans and chefs. Bluebird Hill harvests every day during that time, hanging out an “asparagus” sign beside the road when the self-service coolers are filled each morning with about 20 bunches. “We also post an announcement on Facebook; it’s all gone within a couple of hours Asparagus is a good crop for a farm to add to extend the direct retail season. It sells, and at a good price. You’re not throwing any out.” For home growers and farmers alike, the hybrid cultivars of asparagus bred by Rutgers University have dramatically increased yield. Jersey Titan, Jersey Giant, and Jersey King are three varieties of all-male plants with increased vigor, yield, disease resistance, and longevity. Male asparagus plants can produce as much as four times the amount as a mixed-sex crop

because their energies are not diverted to producing flowers and seeds. You can plant multiple varieties in the same bed, and each will tend to mature at a slightly different time in production. Unlike other crops, asparagus hybrids are not purported to have diminished flavors as compared to older varieties. “Our favorite, so far, is Jersey Knight. Our plants have been in for 10 years and produce really nice spears,” C.J. tells. Bluebird Hill sources their asparagus crowns from Nourse Farms in South Deerfield, MA. From their Catalog: “One of the New Jersey asparagus hybrids, Jersey Knight, is extremely vigorous, has large, succulent spears, and quickly attracts a loyal following. The flavor is excellent, and the plant is resistant to rust, crown rot, and fusarium. It also performs equally well in heavy, clay-like soils.” “These are good crowns,” says C.J., “They look like big spider crabs… you can tell they are going to produce.” At a decade old, Bluebird Hill’s asparagus is just getting warmed up; asparagus plants can produce well for 15-20 years! Bluebird Hill’s methods for planting and cultivation will work equally well for home gardeners. Select a spot with full sun where

Asparagus can catch a farmer by surprise.



asparagus has not been grown before, as plant diseases from previous crops can linger in soil. Asparagus can be started from seed, but buying roots – also called crowns – shortens the number of years to your first harvest. For $20-$30, depending on the variety, you can purchase 25 asparagus roots from Nourse Farms. This will give you a 25' row; each plant will produce ½ to 1 lb. when it is established. A basic soil test from the University of Connecticut (with a turnaround time of about a week) will show the pH of your soil and what amendments might be needed. “Our soil has a pH of about 5.5,” explains C.J., “So we add lime to bring it up to 7. You could also use wood ash. We add nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus." “Plant the crowns in early springtime as soon as the soil can be worked. Dig a furrow about 8” deep. Cover the crowns with soil and add more every two weeks (as the spears begin to grow) until the soil is heaped about 2” above ground level. This will help protect future crops from cold injury in the spring.” Asparagus cannot compete with weeds. Keep it weeded– in the first year, especially. You can mulch with straw to keep weed pressure down. Water regularly. As the spring progresses, the row of asparagus becomes a tall hedge of ferns. Cut the ferns down and remove in late winter. This helps eliminate disease. Due to asparagus being a heavy feeder, Bluebird Hill side-dresses established asparagus beds in the spring with compost or composted manure before the spears start coming up. It is lightly scratched in so as not to disturb the roots, which are quite near the surface. Do not harvest at all in the first year, and harvest very lightly in the second. In year three, plants should be established and normal harvesting can begin. C.J. advises harvesting asparagus spears when they are about 8” tall. Thick spears are healthy spears. When the spear width diminishes in the season, discontinue harvesting. Overharvesting can weaken plants and make them more disease-prone.

“You can eat it raw. You should give it a try. I don’t even cook it at all," instructs C.J.

To harvest, the farmers of Bluebird Hill use a garden knife to cut each spear below the surface of the soil. This keeps the stem in the ground and helps avoid infection.



Thick spears are healthy spears.

“You can eat it raw. You should give it a try. I don’t even cook it at all,” instructs C.J. Are you more interested in purchasing fresh asparagus than growing it? For flavor and tenderness, you want the freshest asparagus you can find. Buy directly from a farm, if possible. Look for asparagus with tight buds and plump stems. Thicker spears can absolutely be tender. At a farmers’ market, be sure to ask the seller if they sell their own; if so, it is likely to be fresher than resold product. In the kitchen, work your knife up the stem beyond the woody part and cut – even fresh spears will have a woody portion at the base. Discard that if you plan to use the asparagus right away. To store, keep that portion on as it acts as a plug preventing the rest of the spear from losing moisture. Washed and placed in a plastic bag while still damp, asparagus will keep in the refrigerator for as long as one week. Once you are familiar with how asparagus ferns look, you may notice them growing wild on roadsides or near tumble-down fieldstone foundations. These feral plants, which grew from seeds blown beyond cultivated beds, or persisted as hardy relics from long-gone farms, can be transplanted to your own garden. Mark them in the fall and go back in the early spring – as soon as you can get a shovel into the ground to dig. Better yet, return in mid-May to eat a few of those asparagus spears raw, right there where they grow, like C.J. would.



Roasted Asparagus with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Ramp Ranch Dressing, Duck Egg Yolk

INGREDIENTS: Makes 3-4 servings

Pickled Ramps


2 c. water

1 ½ c. Champagne vinegar

1 c. white granulated sugar

Mix water, vinegar, sugar, salt, star anise, and allspice in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil to dissolve sugar.

2 ½ Tbsp. kosher salt

2 whole star anise

1 Tbsp. allspice

1 lb. ramps

Asparagus and Duck Egg Yolk

2 bunches small asparagus

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

½ c. bacon lardons, cooked

Pea tendrils, measured to taste

Shaved radishes, measured to taste

(peas tendrils and shaved radishes add

texture and their quantities may be

measured to the cook’s preference.)

Raw duck egg yolks, one per serving

Maldon sea salt

Ramp Ranch Dressing 3 large hen’s egg yolks at room temperature ½ c. pickled ramps 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 1 Tbsp. pickling liquid from the pickled ramps 1 c. vegetable oil ½ c. extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp. crème fraîche

Clean ramps – use a paring knife to trim the root, then peel the outer layer of skin and wash well. Cut ramps about 1" past where the green leaves begin. Reserve ramp tops. Place cleaned ramps into a container, pour boiling liquid over them. Weigh down so that ramps are completely submerged. Let cool to room temperature, cover, and store in refrigerator. In a food processor, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, pickled ramps, and pickling liquid. While processor is running, slowly add vegetable and olive oils to form an emulsion. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in the crème fraîche, milk, and ramp tops. Salt to taste. Heat cast iron skillet or grill until very hot. Dress asparagus with olive oil and salt until well-coated and evenly-seasoned. Add asparagus to skillet or grill in a single layer, cooking in batches if necessary. Cook until slightly browned and tender. Transfer to a serving dish and incorporate bacon lardons. Top with pea tendrils, shaved radishes, duck egg yolks, and a drizzle of ramp ranch. Season yolks with Maldon sea salt.

Recipe: Chef Jonathan Hudak, Cafémantic

½ c. whole milk ¼ c. ramp tops, chiffonade-cut



By Hilary Adorno

Winter Caplanson Photos


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

arriers and blacksmiths are like rectangles and squares: while a farrier is considered a blacksmith, a blacksmith is not necessarily a farrier. Blacksmiths forge metal (iron, steel), fabricate objects like gates, railings, decorative objects, and tools by forging metal (i.e. iron and steel). Farriers specialize in equine foot care, using blacksmith techniques to fabricate custom horseshoes. While methods and materials have progressed, little else has changed about this 1,500-year-old practice. It takes a tenacious, fearless person to become – and more importantly – stay a farrier. The reading, writing, and anatomy portion of a farrier’s education ranges from six to 24 weeks, depending on the program and chosen school; apprenticing requires 8,000 hours of hands-on experience with a practicing mentor. A farrier is responsible for maintaining foot and leg health of (what can be) costly animals, helping them to avoid injury. Finally, consider an unpredictable clientele. Farriers have to approach each animal with sixth-sense tactical intelligence, as each one varies drastically in weight, height, and mental stability. Apprenticeship begins with pulling shoes, graduating to finishing the hoof (filing with a rasp), and finally, nailing shoes and working with the traditionally propane-fired forge. Another factor? Insurance. As an independent contractor, typically working on property other than their own, farriers must carry liability insurance to protect him or herself, others, the animals being shoed, and the property itself. The amount of insurance ranges from $100,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the client’s or property owner’s requirements. Specialty insurance companies can help gauge what rates and limits are reasonable. I spent an afternoon with a good friend, Bob Ellis of Morris, who has been as a working farrier for almost Bob Ellis at home on his family farm in Morris. ctfoodandfarm.com


30 years. Bob’s history with horses began in 1980 when his father – Bob, Sr. – purchased a pair of Belgians: draft horses named after their country of origin. As friends, family, and word-of-mouth requests came in for horse and carriage rides, Bob’s father realized that he could turn his hobby into a return on his investment. He began a livery service for special occasions and weddings offering drawn carriages, sleds, and wagons. Bob and his father also participated in pulling competitions and six-horse hitch exhibitions in local fairs; Bob describes it as a fun way for father and son to spend time together and display the magnificent fruits of their labor. An epiphany came at the age of 18 when Bob handed over his entire weekend’s earnings to their farrier on a Monday morning. The moment he decided he could do it himself, Bob was quickly on his way to becoming a farrier. To start, Bob attended the Eastern School of Farriery in Martinsville, VA for nine weeks after which he began what became a nine-year


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

apprenticeship for Kriz Brothers, mentored by International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member Joe Kriz and his brother John. Bob also worked alongside Glen and Tim Kriz, eighth-generation Kriz farriers. Five years into his apprenticeship, Bob was tasked with handling some unique celebrities: The World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales. He traveled to Orlando, FL, St. Louis, MO, Merrimack, NH, San Antonio, TX, and San Diego, CA every six weeks for three to eight day stints, shoeing the various teams. For a total of 14 years, Bob was the go-to guy for maintaining the feet of these majestic one-ton creatures. With at least 10 horses per location shod every six weeks, Bob has handled almost 36,000 Clydesdale shoes. Another remarkable experience during Bob’s career was working in tandem with Glenn Kriz on the 1993 history-making trek named Country’s Reminisce Hitch. From April to October of that year, a six-horse team of Belgian draft horses

Nippers are used to cut back the frog - the triangle-shaped underside of the hoof.



traveled 3,600 miles from Kennebunkport, ME to San Diego, CA. As needed, Bob or Glenn would fly wherever needed to shoe the team. The expedition was a success!

Doesn’t require heat; the shoe is molded to fit with a hammer (a rounding or pein hammer). This method is traditionally used on pleasure and back-yard horses and can cost from $100 to $200 for each application. Demands that the shoe be fired in a forge, making the metal pliable. It is manipulated with a hammer to fit the foot, as well. Clips can be fabricated, helping take stress off the nails and keeping the shoe in place. Hot shoeing also entails burning the hot shoe to the hoof, creating a perfect marriage between foot and shoe, reducing the risk of infection and/or unwanted material getting between the hoof and shoe. This type of shoeing is necessary for working and show horses and costs $200 to $400 per fitting. Is simply cutting back the hoof with nippers, using a knife to cut away excess sole and dead tissue, (to allow healthy tissue to breathe) and finishing with a rasp to file down the rough edges. Trimming is performed before shoeing or can be done without shoeing for retired or non-working animals; it runs between $40 and $100 depending on the size of the animal and the extent of the work. Horses should be trimmed and shod every five to six weeks in order to maintain healthy feet and soundness. There are a few other considerations when determining how to treat your horse’s feet. The three factors Bob considers are the animal’s conformation, its habitat, and its function. For example, if horses are kept in a muddy or wet area, they can become susceptible to an ailment called Thrush (or Seedy Toe). A dry turnout can A rasp files down the hoof, completing the trimming process. 66

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016



result in sand cracks. If a horse works on pavement, it should have carbide studs installed in their shoes to prevent skidding; studs and snowball pads prevent snow from balling up in their soles. Bob takes all of these factors into consideration in addition to consulting with the animal’s veterinarian in order to make the best decision for the animal’s foot welfare. He is an integral part of keeping the animals under his care healthy and sound. Today, Bob has mostly local clients in order to stay closer to home and raise a family. He currently shoes all breeds, including Morgans, shown at the national level. He also drives to New York City every six weeks and maintains the feet of the horses, ponies, and donkeys at The Bronx Zoo. I have extremely fond 30-year old memories of Bob and I riding bareback on a pair his family Percherons through the snow-covered streets of Harwinton. Can you visualize anything better? The thought of doing that now gives me psychosomatic leg pain, but I’m thankful to have had the experience and time spent with a dear friend.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Bob displays the various unfitted shoes he uses during farrier demonstrations. ctfoodandfarm.com



CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

The following lists contains a selection of Connecticut farriers; it is paramount to consult with your veterinarian before choosing a farrier:

Joseph Santos Mark Reilly

Roger Dinsmore

203.598.4130 / Newtown  06470 203.788.3520 / Sandy Hook 06482

860.844.8775 / East Granby 06026

Rick Bradshaw

860.542.5375 / Norfolk 06058

Robert Ellis

860.307.4099 / Morris 06763

Vinny Minella

860.485.9873 / Harwinton 06791

John Matthews

203.228.9383 / Woodbury 06798

Michael Berluti

860.349.2190 / Durham 06422

Ryan Weaver

860.526.5246 / Deep River 06417

Tim Cavanaugh

860.301.6291 / Essex 06426

Joseph Consiglio

203.795.4696 / Orange 06477

Scott Becroft Tim Kriz

203.499.7833 / Wallingford 06492

jsantoshorseshoeing@gmail.com mareiboats@sbcglobal.net



mike4shoes@sbcglobal.net cwlibby@snet.net

joseph-consiglio@sbcglobal.net bhfarrier@yahoo.com

203.393.0414 / Bethany 06524

Carl Schwarz

203.397-9351 / New Haven 06511

Dennis Sullivan

203.592.1946 / Waterbury 06706


860.575.2455 / Colchester 06415


Matt Lewis

Don Shepherd

Jeff Trask

860.424.2592 / Tolland 06084

860.933.1307 / Hampton 06247





Saving Seeds

- a Graceful Habit

by Laura Graham

Winter Caplanson Photos

n 1987, Marilyn Barlow resolved to devise a way to work from home so she could spend more time with her newborn son; she began collecting rare and disappearing open-pollinated flower seeds and selling them from her 1835 farmhouse. Marilyn and her husband Peter, a carpenter, bought their house as a fixer-upper. You know – the kind that has old canning jars floating in a flooded basement, and whose primary residents are termites? Marilyn and Peter are of serious Yankee stock which is not easily discouraged. Nearly three decades later, Marilyn and her team of employees run a vibrantly successful company called Select Seeds whose catalogue makes my heart pound with excitement. If hollyhocks, vintage flowers, and such are your thing, Select Seeds is your Mecca. The Connecticut winter cold sucks the air out of my lungs as I dash from my car into the warm, moist air of the greenhouses. The main greenhouse is filled with trays of tiny seedlings of "Rare, Heirloom, and Choice" specimens as the Select Seeds ctfoodandfarm.com


“If hollyhocks, vintage flowers, and such are your thing, Select Seeds is your Mecca.” Catalogue describes. Each tray has a different story; some plants are native, others European, and more still are from other collectors in the U.S. While the company's own open pollinated seeds (grown on the property) are certified organic, efforts become more complicated when plants and seeds come in from other places. Marilyn's ultimate goal is to go all-organic. There are generators, and backup generators, to make sure the greenhouses never lose heat, and painstaking care is taken to prevent and eliminate any potential pests. Nearby lies a cardboard tube labeled "Amblyseius cucumeris" - miniscule predatory mites sprinkled into freedom, hungrily patrolling.  The minute scale of the plants draws you in to observe their fine, colorful details and fragrance. There are hundreds of tiny multi-hued coleus, followed by trays of fragrant herbs and delicate, petite heirloom violets: 76

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

the same fragrant violets that inspired Victorian poetry and Valentines. The ones that we examine date from the Civil War through the turn of 20th century. They smell like my grandmother's perfume and range in color from pale pinks to midnight blue. We continue to the primroses. There is bright yellow cowslip, or Primula veris, that dates back to circa 1747 in the United States. (They are a native English wildflower.) Another variety, a delicate pink Primula polyanthus, is a descendant of the Barnhaven primrose collection that famed American horticulturist Florence Bellis began in 1935. They would look so charming in clay pots! Extreme gardening greed begins to fill my head. I start wondering if it would be acceptable to get rid of all of our lawn and surround our home completely with flowers. My mind spins with flower bed design strategies. We step into the colder    greenhouse where the perennial seedlings are

Marilyn tends a Sweet 'Rosina', a candy pink, intensely-perfumed sweet violet, popular in the late 19th century, employed as corsages, nosegays, and in the making of perfume.

moved to be vernalized. Some of the perennials were seeded back in August to give them enough time to germinate and be in presentable form for sale in the spring. Looking at the variety of unusual pigments and shapes, I want them all. This is the world of gardening magic. We are light years away from the world of big box stores with their pesticide-coated plants. My sister humorously refers to those stores as "the Dark Side." I feel like a young gardening Jedi walking at Marilyn Barlow's side. There are a few pots marked with red- and white-striped flags; those plants are not commercially available. One is the Pelargonium “Golden Harry Hieover” from England. Surrounding it are cuttings of night blooming cereus – a fragrant flowering cactus – which were originally acquired from the Mark Twain House in Hartford. This only partially answers my question, "how does one go about collecting old-fashioned plants and seeds?" Listening to Marilyn, I realize 78

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

she's a collector of fine art – one piece at a time. Some annuals she finds through European catalogues, but she also tells me of hiking with her husband many years ago in their surrounding 50-acre woods and finding some unusual irises next to an overgrown cellar hole–which went straight to her personal beginner garden. My own beginner's collection arrived in the same way most early-Colonial flower beds did: with gifts. Friends showed up shortly after we moved into our new home with rangy-looking perennials in assorted temporary vessels. These gifts are typically resilient, if not invasive plants. In other words, I couldn’t kill them, and our home now has some great patches of color and joy that remind me of our dear friends who shared their gardens with us back then. There wasn't exactly a flower budget when the first European settlers arrived in the New World.



"Her great grandfather, grandmother, and great aunt surrounded the home with shrub roses, peonies, hay scented ferns, daylilies, phlox, lemon lilies, and irises, each with their own distinct, intoxicating scent." Food was the goal, and if there were flowers in garden beds, they were there to attract pollinating bees or as part of the “Physic Garden of Simples,” – herbs and flowers used in early medicine. Flower bed design did not hit its peak in the United States until the Victorian Age when exotic plants from world travelers were introduced into elaborate glass greenhouses. Erroneously, I thought heirloom plants were mostly perennials. Marilyn opened my eyes. Select Seeds has an extraordinary selection of annuals. The Catalogue includes suggestions for color and texture couplings, something as delightful to me as pairing food and wine. We talk more about garden design and I learn about Victorian circular beds with poles in the middle to support flowering annual vines, surrounded with concentric shorter plants. Marilyn tells me of growing up in a multi-generational family homestead in Connecticut that was built in 1855. It was a large wooden-shingled, L-shaped 80

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

farmhouse with a steep pitched slate roof, tiled in pattern. Her great grandfather, grandmother, and great aunt surrounded the home with shrub roses, peonies, hay - scented ferns, daylilies, phlox, lemon lilies, and irises, each with their own distinct, intoxicating scent. When Marilyn later studied agriculture, she discovered that modern landscaping was sadly lacking in such fine perfumes. Modern plants became short and unscented from being over-hybridized; they had lost their poetry. Marilyn began seeking out tall, gangly, aromatic plants. She desired those with a “graceful habit.” In the days before the internet, Marilyn searched out primary sources in the nearby Old Sturbridge Village Research Library. Select Seeds' first catalogue comprised perennials and some vegetables, but after years in the business, annuals are now Marilyn’s true passion. She cites such texts as Louise Beebe Wilder’s 1918 Colour in My Garden and Celia


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

“I imagine Celia Thaxter sitting among the flowers for hours at a time to study each one in detail, how it grew from a tiny seed, how the colors and forms accompanied each other, everything, for her descriptions. are so keenly observant.” Thaxter’s 1894 An Island Garden as two important inspirations. Celia Thaxter was a poet; her talent is best shown through her descriptions of her beautiful annual gardens on Appledore Island in the Isles of Shoals, off the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine. As Marilyn tells me, “I imagine Celia Thaxter sitting among the flowers for hours at a time to study each one in detail, how it grew from a tiny seed, how the colors and forms accompanied each other, everything, for her descriptions are so keenly observant.” Select Seeds began to garner national attention in the mid-1990s when the "cottage" look became very popular. Flowers with a “graceful habit” suddenly were all the rage, and the company was featured on the cover of Country Living magazine. That's when things really took off for the business. Since then, Select Seeds has won numerous Direct Gardening

Association Green Thumb Awards, most recently one for Silene dioica “Ray’s Golden Campion” described as an "outstanding open-pollinated perennial featuring golden yellow to chartreuse foliage and hot fuchsia flowers in mid- to late-spring. Longblooming, it has a golden green color that complements the sprin palette and brilliant flowers that bring on the wow-factor. 24-30” tall.” Select Seeds has more than 600 types of seed packets and plants available for purchase (including Silene dioica "Ray’s Golden Campion"); call 800-684-0395 or visit their website. Schools, 4-H Clubs, and Future Farmer of America (FFA) organizations are encouraged to contact Select Seeds about its Seed Donation Program.



Farmers’ Tried and True Favorite Seed Varieties By Laura Graham

Winter Caplanson, Ashley Caroline Scavotto and Victoria Schaefer Photos

Increase your chance at gardening success this year! Opt for the vegetable varieties Connecticut farmers choose themselves for disease resistance, bountiful harvest, and flavor. No need to worry about starting these seeds inside; some of the easiest veggies to grow have seeds that can be sown directly into garden soil in the spring. The earliest planting time is “as soon as the soil can be worked.” Seeds can rot if planted too early in cold, water-logged soil. If the soil is sticks to your tools, a spade comes out clumped with mud, or a handful of soil formed into a ball holds together and requires pressure to break apart, it’s still too early to plant.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Victoria Schaefer

If you have packets of seeds from previous years, they may still be viable. Lettuce and radish seeds will germinate as long as five years, for example, while leek seeds are good for only one. Check an online seed viability chart or try a seed germination test: place 10 seeds spaced apart on a damp paper towel. Roll it up and place in a plastic bag. Leave it in a warm spot in the house; lighting doesn’t matter. After two to five days, check to see how many seeds have germinated. That percentage will give you a pretty good idea of how the same seed will do in your garden.



Here are some tried and true recommendations from experienced farmers, with grower’s notes: Allison Charney, KAM Farm, Lebanon Violet of Sicily Cauliflower: Disease and drought resistant, large purple heads with excellent flavor. Purple Beauty Bell Pepper: Abundant ripe fruit throughout the summer. Ancho (Poblano) Pepper and Black Hungarian Pepper: Prolific producers if started early and transplanted once the soil is warm. Cosmic Purple Carrots, Scarlet Nantes Carrots, and Atomic Red Carrots: long, straight carrots with excellent, rich flavor and brilliant tiny.

Phil Griffin, Apis Verdi Farm, Lebanon Lemon Cucumbers: Excellent flavor, prolific, stands up better to cucumber beetles. Pick while young and tender with a pale yellow-green tint.

Mark Pailthorpe, Falls Creek Farm, Oneco Maxibel , Concador, and Velour French Filet Beans: Reliable germination, no disease problems, plentiful, fantastic flavor. Vibrant colors in green, yellow, and purple.

Brian Kelliher, Easy Pickin’s, Enfield Sugar Sprint Sugar Snap Peas: Early; shorter vine; no need to trellis. Pods are fairly string-less with strong taste and no disease problems.

Japanese Hakurei Spring Turnips: Appealing flavor, texture, and beauty.Wayne Hansen, Wayne’s Organic


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Ashley Caroline Scavotto

Radishes: Amethyst, a beautiful purple; Ping Pong, a clean white; Pink Beauty, a pretty pink; Cherriette, deep red. Varieties which hold appearance and flavor well, even into warmer weather.



Wayne Hansen, Wayne’s Organic Garden, Oneco Cascadia Sugar Snap Peas: Larger pods, very tasty. Oregon Giant Snow Peas: Sweet and tender, e�en when pods are large and a bit swollen. Maestro Shelling Peas: easy to tell when the pod is full.

CJ Pogmore, Bluebird Hill Farm, Lebanon Multipik (Yellow) and Reward (Green) Summer Squash: Produce like crazy, excellent disease resistance.

Mitchel Colgan, Colgan Farm, Windsor Rattlesnake Pole Beans: Beautiful and delicious, can be harvested young as snap beans or left on the vine and harvested as dry beans. Ronde de Nice Zucchini: Bush-like, smaller plant. Very productive. Small, round fruit, classic taste.

Max Taylor, Provider Farm, Salem Red Ace Beets: Large in size, consistent producer, flavorful and versatile greens. Nelson Spring Carrots: Sweet, crunchy, grow straight and long. Romance Summer Carrots: Stellar malady resistance desirable for summer growing. Paul Desrochers, 18th Century Purity Farms, Plainfield Penelope Shelling (English) Peas: Long pods (eight-10 peas per pod), easy to tell when mature, pods well-exposed for harvest. Delectable Sweet Corn: Nice, tight husk, longer harvest window (without getting tough), earworm more easily controlled with organic techniques than some other varieties, amazing taste.

Now fire up that online seed-ordering! Happy growing, gardeners!


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016



Fresh Fish Steeped in Tradition

Lenten Fridays at the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and Club in Stonington, CT By Laura Graham

Winter Caplanson photos

Each Friday during Lent, the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society in Stonington caters to a packed house of soon-to-be happily fed diners. The commotion begins at half past seven when the first individuals arrive to begin cooking. The ingredients, seafood fresh from the docks, is purchased the night before: cod, haddock, clams, shrimp, scallops, and squid. They comprise the Society’s legendary Fish and Chips dinner. Tucked in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, east of Mystic and west of Pawcatuck, is a point of land less than a mile long, affectionately referred to as the Borough. Leaving Route 1, the road leads you up and over the viaduct crossing the Amtrak rail line. It is here where you will enter one of the most charming villages in New England.


In the early 1700's, Stonington was settled by a motley crew of farmers, fishermen, and world class merchants and explorers, including Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer who discovered Antarctica in 1820. Today, the town's immaculately preserved historic architecture illustrates this range of inhabitants, from farmers’ early Colonial gambrel cottages, large Queen Anne, Federal, and Greek Revival ship captain homes that reflect the wealth accumulated in Stonington due to whaling and the early seal fur trade.

cannons," as the locals say. (Two cannons sit in a main square in the center of town and are a symbol of patriotic pride for residents, as they were used to fend off the British in a decisive battle during the War of 1812.)

One of the most significant communities to contribute to Stonington's vibrant history was the arrival of Portuguese fisherman, many from the Azores, in the 1840s. They settled primarily in the very tip of the town, down near "the point" or "south of the

Like many immigrant communities, the Portuguese have held onto their dearest traditions. One of these is the Feast of the Holy Ghost in remembrance of the sanctified Medieval Queen Saint Isabel, or Elizabeth of Aragon. Famous for her religious devotion during her reign and as the

CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

The Society and Club have been a mainstay on Main St. in Stonington Borough since 1929.




men volunteer to cook and serve the meal, most of whom have been involved since the its founding.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016




CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Like many immigrant communities, the Portuguese have held onto their dearest traditions.

to the next, every seven weeks. The second day, after Sunday Mass, a commemorative "feeding of the masses" begins and continues until all participants have been fed traditional Portuguese soup and roasted meats. The Holy Ghost Society’s Fish and Chips Dinner began about 25 years ago. Portuguese American men volunteer to cook and serve the meal, most of whom have been involved since its inception. Founded more than one hundred years ago, The Society and Club’s first home was located in a small building at the end of the diminutive "Wall St." In 1929, the Club moved to its current location in a stunning 1836 Greek Revival on Main St. Lenten Fish and Chips Fridays have become so popular, that the club has also launched an additional series on Fridays in September and following the Feast of the Holy Ghost. This year, from February 5 – March 25, join in the festivities from 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. at 26 Main St., Stonington. Climb the outside staircase and you’ll enter an expansive dining room often jammed with hungry and excited diners.

Dowager Queen of Portugal, she was inspired by the Franciscan order of monks to help the poor and feed the masses. During a particularly harsh famine, it is said that the Holy Ghost descended upon the Queen and inspired her to give away her own food stores to save her subjects. Queen Isabel is honored every September with a two-day weekend festival. On Saturday, a band plays as a crown and scepter are carried through the streets to St. Mary's Church. Afterward, celebrants gather at the Club to enjoy customary music and food. At the end of the evening, seven “domingas” (those whose homes will be blessed by the crown and scepter) are drawn and the following year’s sponsor is selected. The crown and scepter are passed from each dominga’s home

Lightly-breaded, golden, flaky fried fish, juicy shrimp, sweet scallops, tender calamari and whole belly clams, and homemade chowder together form the menu accompanied by French fries and coleslaw. Beer, soda, spirits, and wine are available, as well. The Holy Ghost Society, the Club, and its members are a wonderful example of the tremendous sense of community that sharing a meal creates; locals can always look forward to seeing familiar faces, while newbies are sure to become regulars after their first visit.

To learn more about the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and Club, visit their website and Facebook page. The Club is available to rent, as well.



Grand & : Grass-Fed What you Need TO Know About

American Bison Written and photographed by Winter Caplanson

First things first:

bison are no joke. If

you have experience and a comfort level in working with large livestock, it will prepare you surprisingly little for being around bison. Although they are raised on farms, bison are game animals. They are not domesticated and not docile by nature. They are skittish, unpredictable, and potentially aggressive in human presence. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1820) wrote of American Bison: “The attempts which have been made to domesticate this animal, have not been attended with success. Calves which have been taken in the woods and brought up with the tame breed, have afterwards discovered a wild and ungovernable temper, and manifested their savage nature by breaking down the strongest enclosure, and enticing the tame cattle into the woods.” Bison reach an average weight of 1,500 lbs., can run as fast as 40 mph when agitated, and can, improbably by the looks of them, jump vertically in the air almost six feet high. Bison are challenging to confine, as they can easily escape or destroy most fencing. And yet, two Connecticut farms so admire these animals that they raise, breed, and keep bison herds for meat production. At Mohawk Bison in Goshen, Peter Fay’s herd roams 60 acres of open fields. Austin Tanner and his wife, Deborah, own the 110-acre Creamery Brook Bison in Brooklyn. Bison are the ultimate “pasture raised” animals. They are handled very little by their farmers, only once or twice a year, with the assistance of a system of chutes corralling them into progressively smaller spaces. Although supplemental hay


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

is provided, the animals also graze freely through the winter, using the massive muscle in the humps on their backs to power their thrashing heads from side to side, brushing away snow to reach grasses. They neither need nor want shelter in the winter. Bison's legal designation as “exotic game animals” prohibits the use of antibiotics or hormones. Its meat is is reminiscent of wild meat, and that holds appeal for foodies who seek it. The taste of bison meat, lean with a dense richness and minerality, makes this diner’s DNA vibrate with carnivorous satisfaction. Its flavor is its best advertising.

term European settlers used, although different from their distant Asian and African cousins) ranged at least to the Hudson River and into Northern New England. After the slaughter culminating in the 1880s, there were fewer than 1,000 bison left in the U.S. Texas A&M University offers genetic testing farmers can use to determine if their stock is 100 percent bison with no evidence of cattle genes. The Tanner’s herd is pure, which means it is descended from those surviving Plains Bison. Farming is part of the bison’s comeback story; if we eat them, farmers will keep raising them. The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted more than 160,000 bison on American farms.

“Bison are not very secure about the human race”

At their farm store, the Tanners sell all the cuts you’d expect of beef such as sirloin steaks, London broil, and stew meat at a premium price (when compared to beef). But, bison also provide a hump roast! Creamery Brook sets up a stall at the Brooklyn Fair selling hungry event-goers grilled bison in the form of burgers, bratwurst, hotdogs, and Philly cheesesteaks, resulting in significant foot traffic to the farm.

Although USDA inspection is not required to sell the meat of game animals for public consumption, Mohawk Bison and Creamery Brook Bison do use a slaughterhouse that provides it. This allows the farms to sell to restaurants as well, but most of the meat is sold directly to an eager public at their farm stores. Bison were once common in much of the Eastern United States: Spanish records noted bison in Florida; Daniel Boone found several thousand grazing the bluegrass of Kentucky. Before the Revolution, George Washington killed “the King’s” bison in West Virginia. Accounts say buffalo (the

At Creamery Brook, male and female bison are kept together. With availability to hay providing consistent year-round nutrition, cows give birth on their own schedule in the springtime (as they do in the wild) or the fall.They often calve at the same time each year as long as 20 years. Calves are kept with their mothers for about six months until they are weaned. After this time, the young bison are separated from the herd to allow them time to access hay without having to jockey for it against the older, larger animals. It takes about three years for a bison to grow large enough to harvest. Female bison, especially those with calves, are often the more aggressive than bulls. They deliver without any assistance from their farmers. “When it’s time to have their calves,” says Deborah, “they will go off to a private spot and two or three other females will act as guards.” The babes are tawny-colored and born without the distinctive bison hump on their back. They begin turning brown and developing the hump after a few months.



Multiple births are rare and in these cases, one calf is usually rejected. “We have a little one that was a twin and was abandoned. My granddaughter will go out and talk to it. It will tolerate her now, but the first time she got into the enclosure with it, that three-day-old calf charged her. That’s their DNA. These animals are not affectionate with people,” says Deborah. Austin seconds Deborah: “Bison are not very secure about the human race.” Much of the earth-shaking head-butting, ground-pawing, grunting, and snorting is, though, as Deborah Tanner puts it, just "playground" behavior. “They fight for dominance within the herd. There is a pecking order and if you want to move up, you have to earn it.” Austin Tanner’s fascination with bison began in grade school with stories of the “buffalo” in America’s Old West. Later, with a farm of their own, Deborah Tanner considered getting Austin, as a Christmas gift, the bison he’d long wanted. At that time, a dairy calf would bring about $80, but bison calves cost $1,000. (And, buying two is necessary so the animals can keep one another company.) Deborah Tanner confides, “that was out of the question, but I thought, 'other men read Playboy; I’ll get him a membership to the National Bison Association so he can read their magazine and look at bison.'” Plastered across the cover of that first issue was: “ Join us for the first national conference in Potosi, Missouri!” And they went. A year and a half later, Austin attended an auction in Northwest Pennsylvania and came home with five bison: two cows and three calves.The following spring, they bought a bull and four cows because “haulers charge by the loaded mile and five made a full load.” Pasture fencing of high tensile wire with 10,000 volts of electricity running through it contained the herd, which was taking shape quite nicely. In 25 years of keeping bison, Austin Tanner has never been injured by his bison and is still captivated by them. “They are majestic animals. People ask, 'don’t you get tired of them?' No, I still like to go down to the pasture to sit and watch.They do know my voice.They’d rather run away than confront me. I treat them with respect. I don’t corner them. I know who the cranky ones are and I give them space.We get along fine.”


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016



Much of the earth-shaking head-butting, ground-pawing, grunting, and snorting is ...just "playground" behavior

The Tanners have found bison to be a successful niche. Their farm has done well and remains a thriving hub of their lives.“We’re not getting rich, but we’re having fun. Two of our daughters built their homes here on the property because they wanted their children to have the same memories of growing up on the farm.There’s no better place for our grandchildren to be.They show in the fairs and have a horse, working steers, dairy calves, and chickens.The older grandchildren work at the farm store and lead tours; they're really good at it! They can walk across the fields to come see us.What more can I ask for?” wonders Deborah. Want to learn more about bison farming? The Tanners suggest checking out the National Bison Association and Eastern Bison Association which offer conferences, shows, and sales.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

“They are majestic animals. People ask, 'don’t you get tired of them?' No, I still like to go down to the pasture to sit and watch."

Chef Brendan Martin of G.W. Tavern in Washington and Charian Epicerie in Licthfield, who often cooks with bison, shares some culinary tips: • Bison is delicious raw as tartare. cuts are great for special occasions; •  INicer cook bison steak very quickly, searing in a hot cast iron skillet to mid-rare.

stew meat is a wonderful product •  Bison at an accessible price point. With it,

you can make a nice Bourguignon or any application calling for braised beef. For chili, I braise bison stew meat slowly in beer and water for five hours until it’s tender enough to shred.

can’t go wrong with a bison burger, •  You so long as you leave a pink middle. It has only about one fifth the fat found in ground beef, so medium is the furthest you should go.



Bison Chili INGREDIENTS: • ¼ c. canola oil • 2 lbs. ground bison • Salt and pepper • 1 large onion, diced • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped • 1 tsp. cumin powder • 1 tsp. oregano • 1 tsp. chili powder • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg • ¼ c. dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)

• 2 c. tomato paste • 6 c. beef broth • 1 14 oz. can of black beans, rinsed • ¼ c. jalapeno, minced • Cheddar cheese, grated • ¼ c. scallion, sliced

From the home collection of Chef Niles E. Talbot directions: Heat canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. (A Dutch oven is best, but a large soup pot will work just fine.) Add diced onions and sauté for five to eight minutes, or until they are translucent.  Add chopped garlic and continue to sauté for two to three minutes or until the garlic toasts to a golden brown color. Add tomato paste.  Do not walk away.  Stir continuously for roughly 10 minutes; it is customary to "cook out" tomato paste because it is commonly canned.  This method eliminates any potential "tinny" flavor.  If the tomato paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of beef broth to loosen it. Season the bison with salt and pepper. Simultaneously add bison and one cup of beef broth. (This allows the protein in the bison to separate from the fat and ensures that you get uniform pieces of ground meat versus uneven clumps.) When beef is evenly cooked, add the remaining five cups of beef broth, plum tomatoes, spices, and dark chocolate. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes on an extremely low simmer.  Add rinsed black beans and cook for an addition 15 minutes. Incorporate diced jalapenos just before removing from heat. Remove the seeds first if you wish to reduce the spice level. If you love the heat, slice the jalapenos instead of dicing them and leave the seeds. Serve chili in ramekins and sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese; the residual heat will melt the cheese. Garnish with a sprinkle of sliced scallions. Variation: In place of mixing jalapenos into chili before serving, mix raw diced jalapenos with one cup of sour cream. Add a dollop atop the melted cheese and garnish with sliced scallion.




CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Herbal Lollipops for Health and Healing By Jessica Giordani and Stacey Wood Hillary Strater photos

Herbal plants and spices are a natural way to brighten things in the kitchen. When used in everyday cooking, they transform the ordinary into something truly special. Visually beautiful, herbs incorporate beneficial vitamins and minerals, as well. Here's how to whip up a batch of Herbal Lollipops using a trusty base recipe which leaves room for all kinds of experimentation!



Cinnamon is warming and spicy while paprika kicks it up a notch – it’s perfectly naughty and nice!

Makes 10-12 lollipops

Large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan Candy thermometer Large heat-proof measuring cup Silicone spatula or whisk 4” Lollipop sticks or bamboo skewers Mixing bowl filled with ice water Lollipop molds (Make sure that they are for hard candy, as chocolate molds won’t withstand the heat the of 300°F syrup.) or baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mat NOTE:

Making candy is a fast, hot business. Never walk away from a pot of boiling sugar. A few seconds of distraction can make the difference between a perfect candy syrup and a smoking, burnt mess. Sugar burns need immediate attention; keeping a bowl of ice water in your work space is a good precautionary measure. While the finished product is loved by all ages, we do not recommend making lollipops with small children in the kitchen.

1 c. granulated sugar ¼ cup water 3 Tbsp. light corn syrup or glucose ½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. paprika 1-2 drops pink or red food coloring (optional) 1. Measure and prep all ingredients before you turn on your burner. 2. Prepare molds by lightly coating with cooking spray and placing your sticks in the indentations. If making free-form lollipops, have your sticks easily accessible and the parchment paper or silicone mat in place on a baking sheet. 3. Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Insert candy thermometer. Adjust heat to medium-high and bring syrup to 300°F. This may take 15 minutes or so; do not walk away! Once your syrup reaches 260°F, the temperature will rise very quickly. 4. As the syrup reaches 300°F, remove from heat immediately, add your cinnamon, paprika, and food coloring, and stir to incorporate evenly. When you add ingredients to the syrup, it will bubble and steam, so use caution. 5. Very carefully pour the lollipop syrup into a heatproof measuring cup. Wait 10-15 seconds for the bubbles to clear. Pour syrup into molds, or in small circles on your prepared baking sheet. Rotate lollipop sticks 180° to coat and anchor them in place. Lollipops will keep up to one month stored at room temperature in an airtight container.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

Lavender is outstanding for cooling and calming the spirit, while lemon is uplifting for the soul; it’s one of our favorite combinations!

Substitute ¼ c. strong lavender tea for water. Stir in 1 tsp. lemon zest and lavender buds (if desired).

Chamomile is magical for settling a nervous tummy and mint can help soothe indigestion. Combined in a lollipop, they’re an ideal after-dinner treat.

Substitute ¼ c. strong mint tea for water.

Stir in

crushed chamomile for flavor (and a lovely speckled look).

Elderberry syrup has a high concentration of antioxidants to give your immune system a boost while boasting an exceptional flavor.

Substitute ¼ c. elderberry syrup for water (we used syrup from Whole Harmony 4 U).

Feel free to try

pretty garnishes like rose petals or other fresh herbs.

Hibiscus, rose petals, goji berries, hawthorn berries, schisandra berries, elderberries, and rosehips all deliver an exquisite antioxidant and vitamin-filled punch of pure berry flavor.

Substitute ¼ c. strongly-brewed Whole Harmony 4 U Heart & Soul tea for water.

Stir in 1 tsp. of dried hibiscus.




Laura Graham

Winter Caplanson

Rebecca Hansen

is a true crime and Litchfield County enthusiast. She's knowledgeable on shallow graves and dental records, but more importantly, can recommend the best local spot for handmade single-cow-origin chocolates or where to meet a flock of Magpie geese. Editor in Chief, will be tracking the advance of springtime, camera in hand, on Connecticut farms, and creating content that tells the stories of the local food movement to people who support it.

Ashley Caroline

has a slight obsession with baby farm animals and is a puppy mama and wedding photographer based in Wilton.

Kelley Citroni

is Editor of and contributing author to CT Food and Farm Magazine, and a professional grant writer. Give her a book and a Modelo Especial on the beach, and she'll die a happy girl.

Michelle Firestone

is a self-proclaimed craft-a-holic who dabbles in jewelry and candle-making in her spare time. When she is not being artsy, she is working as a full-time reporter for The Chronicle newspaper in the Thread City.

Jessica Giordani Winter Caplanson

is a maker, baker, farmers' market junkie, and secret hoarder of holiday candy. Find her desserts at www.luckygirlbakery.com and have a look at what she’s up to on Instagram @tiny_cake.


CT Food & Farm / Spring 2016

exported herself to Italy for 20 years, and has returned to discover that there is a fantastic food culture in CT! She writes, illustrates, and is the owner of Drink with Food, a sales and marketing company for small, high end suppliers in the food and beverage industry. is a professional copywriter and semi-professional book hoarder. When not actively devouring the written word, you can find her dragging her family to the far corners of the state on the hunt for the "perfect New England town."

Carole Miller

is the face behind Topmost Herb Farm; she spends her time alternately between growing plants in the greenhouse and trying to keep her fingernails short enough to prevent too much dirt from accumulating. She specializes in heirloom tomato plants and culinary herbs.

Lisa Nichols

is a graphic designer and photographer who gets to play with the words and images given to her to design this unique magazine. She loves cats, Marc Maron, and naps.

Maya Oren

is the visual storyteller behind MOJALVO. When she's not filming, you can find her in the yoga studio or drinking raw cow's milk in her coffee. She has a huge passion for farms and the way food gets to our table, and looks forward to summer for the sun, but more importantly, for the amazing fresh produce New England has to offer.

Rita Rivera

is a graphic designer, writer, and illustrator with strong opinions about the use of serial commas and Comic Sans. Loves cheese, cupcakes, and the Bee Gees.

Rich Rochlin

is a photographer based in Farmington. By day, he works as an attorney at this own firm in West Hartford where he represents some of the areas most popular restaurants. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He makes his home in Farmington with his wife and two children.

Anna Sawin

is a photographer and one of the leading cupcake aficionados of our time. Best known for photographing families and weddings on the New England shoreline, Anna also enjoys the variety of editorial photography assignments she takes on each year, which have included heart surgery, portraits of 400 elementary schoolers, and lobster harvesting.

Hillary Strater

is an energetic photographer with a love for horses, dogs, and her Coast Guard husband. She has a passion for capturing love and joy in her photography, and is known for bringing happiness, optimism, and humor in all she does.

RECIPE INDEX Starters Pg. 113 Bison Chili

Main Courses Pg. 14 Pasta with Tomatoes and Brie Pg. 58 Roasted Asparagus with Applewood Bacon, Ramp Ranch Dressing, Duck Egg Yolk

Sweets Pg. 116 Pg. 117 Pg. 117 Pg. 117 Pg. 117

Cinnamon Paprika Lollipops Lavendar Lemonade Lollipops Chamomile Mint Lollipops Elderberry Lollipops Heart & Soul Lollipops

Stacey Wood and her partner David Soule

created Whole Harmony Apothecary in Haddam. Both are Certified Herbalists who went to school to study the properties, energies, and actions of plants. A line of Hand Crafted Artisan Teas emerged from their education and passion; an exceptional Herbal Elixir line and Herbal Tonic line soon followed. Stacey and David, along with their chocolate labs Remy and Mousse, are avid hikers.



Winter Caplanson

“Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees." –Edwin Way Teale

Profile for Connecticut Food and Farm

Connecticut Food & Farm, Spring 2016, Issue 4  

Spring is a magical time on the farm… the earth is waking, animal babies arrive, our work in the greenhouses foreshadows planting in the fie...

Connecticut Food & Farm, Spring 2016, Issue 4  

Spring is a magical time on the farm… the earth is waking, animal babies arrive, our work in the greenhouses foreshadows planting in the fie...