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Winter Caplanson at Millwright's


Table of Contents

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6

The Kickstarter Creamery at Terra Firma Farm by Laura Graham

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DIY Soy Jar Candles with Bright Edge

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The Wizard of Winvian

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The Nutmeg Collective: Power in Partnership by Emily Woodward Tracy

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The Cast Iron Cook

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Makers Gonna Make: The Artisan Entrepreneur by Winter Caplanson

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Belly of the Beast

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The Stonington Village Farmers' Market at The Velvet Mill by Amy White

by Hilary Adorno

by Maya Oren

by Kelley Citroni

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by Lynz Morahn


Winter 2016/Volume 7

Winter Caplanson at KAM Farm

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Winter Farmers' Markets

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A Wise Old Bird

by Amy White

by Matt Skobrak

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Gimme Some Sugar: Maple Sugaring at Cedars of Lebanon by Amy Smith

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Contributors

Recipe Index Entrees

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Buttermilk Rye Biscuits With Chicken, Apple, and Whiskey Sausage Sawmill Gravy

Desserts

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Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie

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By

Lau

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Terra Firma Farm ra G

h ot os

at

P n raham Anna Sawi


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As we sat down at the kitchen table,

I could hear desperate shrieking coming from down the hall. I began the interview. The shrieking continued. “Go get him, please,” I said.  Farmer Brie disappeared and moments later I was holding a tiny, all-black, newborn kitten that was abandoned this week on the road in front of the Farm. “What kind of person does that?” we say to each other. Brie said the kitten was in pretty rough shape when she first found him. His tiny flailing claws grasped at my hand and sweater as I fed him the small bottle of formula that Farmer Brie had prepared. As the kitten snuggled into the bend of my arm and gulped down the contents of the bottle, I was filled with a sense of well-being. Farmer Brie smiled at me, obviously entertained. This is what she does: she

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connects people with the Farm, with its food, with the earth. It is not an intellectual connection – that may come later – it is a visceral connection. She invites you to love the things that she loves. In 2004 after getting her Bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Vermont, Brianne Casadei came home to Stonington and leased a small historic farm property that she found through Connecticut Landmarks. The old Forge Farm built in 1750 is too small to be a regular commercially-viable farm, but Brie had a different vision. Her dream was to reconnect children with agriculture. My own two children, raised thus far in a major European city, then aged six and nine, were some of the first to enroll.  It was a heady time. Every family in Stonington wanted to be part of Brie’s new project and have their kids learn about farming and the origins of their food. The beauty of it is that this is a real farm, not a petting zoo. So, the kids worked with the animals, took care of the Farm with Brie, and then with their parents would bring home and enjoy products they helped produce. There was a vegetable garden, chickens, rabbits, pigs, donkeys, cows, sheep, and even a ctfoodandfarm.com

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big, colorful heirloom variety turkey named Tom, strutting around the parking lot when you drove in. The kids loved it. The after-school programs continued, grew, and evolved to include summer camps. Now, more than a decade later, the programs continue strong with some of the original campers returning from college to work fulltime during the summer as camp counselors. Now, families can have birthday parties at the Farm, as well. Terra Firma Farm is an agricultural educational center, as well as a place to shop for high-quality local food.  About 75% of the Farm’s income comes from the farm stand and 25% from the educational programs. At the farm stand, Brie has expanded the selection to include and support other local farms’ products. Today, you can buy meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, honey, jams, coffee, and soap. Running a farm is a complex, labor-intensive enterprise, and at one point, Brie decided that she loves livestock farming best, and let go of the vegetable farming. She also started yearning to do what she had enjoyed most while in college: dairy farming. I asked Brie, why dairy and she replied, “I like cows. I like their character, how they are slow-moving and peaceful.”  Brie’s parents are full in; I often see them working with her. They were not farmers themselves, however. Brie is first generation. “I do not know where it comes from,” she said. “I just love it. If you are going to do something 200 hours per week, you might as well love it,” she says with a laugh. After a decade of successfully educating children, Terra Firma Farm was ready to evolve into a proper commercial farming venture. A property in the neighboring town of North Stonington became available, and the vision began to take form.  Farmer Brie launched a Kickstarter campaign, and in 20 days, she would know whether or not people would support her dairy farm idea.  It is one thing to farm, another to raise money. It was a real leap of faith for Brie to put herself out there that way, having never launched a crowd funding campaign before. The goal was to raise $47,000 which would allow her to buy all of the equipment and livestock needed.  The nerve-wracking part is that with Kickstarter, if you do not make your goal, you do not get any money. The project fails, and it fails publicly. Each day, a few individuals donated to the project. Brie put together a social media campaign, and while people were supportive, her own social media could only reach so far. The amount raised slowly crept upward until two local newspapers, The New London Day and The Westerly Sun, published frontpage articles about Terra Firma Farm. Suddenly, the project took off and donations came flooding in. On the 20th day, Brie had $51,000 in contributions, and the dairy farm was born! 

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This is what she does: she connects people with the Farm, with its food, with the earth. It is not an intellectual connection – that may come later – it is a visceral connection. She invites you to love the things that she loves.

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Brie estimates that 99% of the Kickstarter supporters are former campers and their families. She acknowledges that without the newspapers’ help, she would not have met her goal. A year later, Brie and her partner Aaron Bulger have The Creamery at Terra Firma Farm going full swing. (The Creamery operates on the Farm’s North Stonington property, while the vegetable, livestock, and educational components remain in Stonington.) They sell pasteurized milk and yogurt, and a butter churn arrived before the New Year, as well. The plan is to make European-style, cultured butter which has a creamier taste. Because of its higher fat content, it has better properties for cooking, including a higher smoking point, and it makes a crumblier crust when baking. The Creamery currently sells whole pasteurized milk, chocolate milk, and coffee milk. It also sells plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt, and blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and peach yogurts flavored with jams from Winding Drive Preserves in Woodbury; Brie chose Winding Drive because it uses only the highest-quality ingredients.  Terra Firma Farm first began by contributing to and building a community – one that has reaped great rewards in education and first-rate food – and has returned the favor through supporting the Farm’s growth. It is the kind of win-win situation that crowd funding was designed to facilitate. With its eyes still the hazy blue of a newborn, I look at the tiny kitten just beginning his life. His belly is now full and he has quieted down. Farmer Brie is letting him clamber through her hands and up the front of her sweatshirt. His prospects are good. He has landed in a loving home; he has been adopted by a woman with vision and a true understanding of the value and power of community.

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by Hilary Adorno

Winter Caplanson Photos

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moving to Morris six years ago, I drove by a picturesque property with a simple signpost displaying an image of a white fedora and the words “Winvian: The Restaurant & Spa, Open for Reservations.” My curiosity intensified after learning that Winvian is considered one of Connecticut’s premier destination resorts, and I wondered what lay beyond the tree-lined drive, stone walls, and white gate. Now that I’ve been, I’m certain I’ve visited the land Dorothy Gale sings about in The Wizard of Oz. While there isn’t a yellow brick road, there are fields of flowers, whimsical accommodations, and a wizard, backed by a team who can make your wishes come true. It was 1775 when respected local physician Dr. Seth Bird and his wife Hannah built an au courant Georgian-style home in Morris. Over the course of the next 170 years, the Bird family home would shelter many. In 1948, it was purchased by Merrill Lynch Founding Partner Winthrop Hiram Smith (Win) and his fashion model bride Vivian. They dubbed their new retreat “Winvian,” a majestic portmanteau which has remained in place for nearly 70 years. The Smiths installed requisite farm animals, and their only child, Winthrop H. Smith, Jr. (also Win) enjoyed being a boy with 113 acres to investigate. After the passing of Win, Sr. and Vivian’s retirement to Florida, the property passed hands to the next generation. Win, Jr., his wife Maggie, and their children enjoyed time at Winvian, but as schedules grew busier and time between visits grew in length, the Smiths began to speculate about Winvian’s future. Selling wasn’t an option, (They rezoned to prevent development.) and they grew eager to put the property to better use. Maggie and her daughter Heather applied their working knowledge of historical renovation in their approach to transforming Winvian. For four years, alongside celebrated architect David E. Sellers, they collaborated in the reconstruction of a Civil War-era lodging house in Warren, VT into The Pitcher Inn – a luxury hotel and spa complemented by fine dining restaurant 275 Main. The Smiths found their niche; they unexpectedly became high-end hoteliers. As such, Heather and Maggie selected 15 architects to design and construct 18 bespoke, themed cottages (between 780 and 1,300 sq. ft.) on Winvian’s perimeter along with modifications to the Seth Bird House: installing a worldclass kitchen, intimate dining rooms, and a lounge area for fireside repose and billiards. The top floor of the Seth Bird house became the Hadley Suite: 960 sq. ft. outfitted with heated floors, a steam shower, and a hidden flat screen TV. In late 2006, The Smiths opened the doors to their whimsical, lavish retreat.


LODGING Every cottage at Winvian is carefully-situated to ensure complete privacy. Their varied motifs allow guests to design their own getaway. Each one is stocked with fineries: every beverage you can imagine, bedside cookies, slippers, robes, a stocked woodpile, reading materials, and bicycles. Artist is an adorable stick-architecture bungalow with stained-glass windows filled with color, contemporary furnishings, and an easel to create your own work of art. In Beaver Lodge, tree trunks spring from the floor in every corner and the bed sits below a stunning beaver den canopy. It boasts a wraparound, two-sided, river rock fireplace and its massive bathroom is finished floor to ceiling with warm pebbles, a rain shower, and a stone-faced soaking tub. Camping offers a tented king size bed surrounded by trompe l’oeil murals of skies and forests, and features a two-stone façade fireplace and a Jacuzzi with a jaw-dropping view. Inspired by Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Connecticut Yankee acculturates Spanish and New England colonial design. The bedroom is a king’s chamber with rich wood ceilings, opulent fabrics, and arched windows; guests pass under a Stonehenge-inspired megalith to soak in the oversized hot tub. Helicopter houses an entire restored


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1968 Sikorsky Sea King Pelican. Step into the fuselage to enjoy a cocktail or watch a movie; sit in the cockpit to gauge your next move. The two-story walls of Library are lined with stocked bookshelves complete with ladders. Select a book on a stroll around the mezzanine and relax on the large leather sofa in front of a roaring fire. Stay in a lighthouse without being stranded at sea in Maritime – its unique bathroom has a barrel-roofed ceiling and a steam shower; the bed sits in the middle of the round, teak-lined, two-story tower. (No navigational experience required.)

FOUNDATION Even with off-the-chart accommodations, the highlights of a stay at Winvian are served on a plate. Winvian is an international culinary destination and the only resort in the Northeast to earn Five AAA Diamonds – a title retained since opening. The resort has been named by Travel + Leisure as one of The 100 Best Hotels in the World and holds a place on the Conde Nast Gold List, as well as being a member of the prestigious Relais & Château. As for their wizard, Maggie and Heather learned of Chef Chris Eddy – an up-and-comer out of Las Vegas looking to return to the East Coast. Heather shared that “his passion and tremendous talent was immediately evident. There was something special about him which my mom saw right away.” Chris matched the Smiths’ sentiment. “Winvian was really unique and I got very excited, very quickly.” Chris’ worldly childhood comprised constant travel and relocation due to his father John’s career as a U.S. foreign service officer. (He and his siblings were each born in different countries.) Chris’ mother is from Barcelona and his father (of English descent) grew up in Vermont – where Chris considers home. While attending St. Louis University, earning a degree in psychology, Chris waited tables, folded pizza boxes, and carried wine crates for several local dining establishments. A chef by the name of Steve Komorek inspired Chris to consider a career in the kitchen. “Steve came to work he elated everyday. His enthusiasm was infectious and inspirational.” By the time he graduated, Chris had a new career path and had earned enough to pay his way through The French Culinary Institute. John Eddy recalled his son’s tenacity in his book Funny in Parts: The Diary of a Foreign Service Officer. “Chris walked cold turkey into Daniel in Manhattan and somehow found himself talking within minutes to the great chef. Daniel Boulud said he liked [Chris’] attitude and told him to report with his knives the 26

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next morning. Before too long, Daniel sent him as a sous chef to open a restaurant called Café Boulud in Palm Beach, Florida.” Shortly thereafter, Chris met and married Kate (from Houston, TX) and they had three daughters. Chris was then offered the esteemed position of sous chef for Alain Ducasse at Mandalay Bay’s Mix Lounge in Las Vegas. Because their girls were young, Chris and Kate agreed to make the move to Sin City, but established at the onset that it would only be for a year. Serendipitously, Maggie Smith called, out of the blue, at the end of that year. Now at Winvian, Chef Chris, Chef de Cuisine Patrick Espinoza, Executive Sous Chef Jason Gonsalves, and Pastry Chef Selena Gearinger consistently turn out delectable and imaginative dishes with ingredients cultivated mainly on-site. Chris hand-selects every seed, leaf, and petal on the three acres of organic gardens nurtured by Gardeners David Taccuri and Domingo Choc. He sells surplus produce at Morris Marketplace; because the prices are subsidized by the resort, Winvian offers a unique variety of organic produce at reasonable prices. At the urging of Pastry Chef Selena, Winvian also takes their food truck, giving market-goers the opportunity to enjoy Winvian’s offerings in a more casual environment. Chris thoughtfully chooses and works with the best purveyors and cooperatives throughout New England, Pennsylvania, and New York including Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro Bend, VT, Maplebrook Farm in Bennington, VT, Whistling Willows Farm in Newport, NY, and Connecticut’s Beltane Farm in Lebanon, Cato Corner Farm Colchester, and Riverbank Farm in Roxbury.

DINING

In November, I was graciously invited to dinner service with friends. We were individually greeted by name in the driveway and seated fireside to enjoy an aperitif before being escorted to the opulent second-floor dining room. By dancing firelight, we started with an amuse-bouche – a seafood duo of Peruvian oyster ceviche made with Noank oysters and a lobster soup shooter with amontillado and almond cream. Seared foie gras with quince, cider, geranium, and rose followed. The sear provied a satisfying snap to the

Chris’ simple mantra – “to surprise is to delight” – is exhibited on every plate.


The fedora on Winvian’s sign? Heather told me Win, Sr. would often wear one. “It’s a symbol that you are home wherever you hang your hat.”

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buttery, velvet meat brilliantly finished with notes of acidic sweetness. Next, we enjoyed hand-rolled spinach cavatelli – a vibrant green, fresh, and unbelievable. If you don’t pay attention, it’s easy to miss the front-of-house team’s stealth precision. After each course, the silver was replaced, crumbs were cleared, and glasses were filled. The staff is seemingly clairvoyant; its members will think of it before you have the chance to ask. As each visuallystunning creation arrived, we remained completely enthralled without becoming overwhelmed. Our subsequent courses included mahi-mahi with beluga lentil ragout and celery root purée, and veal loin with roasted sunchoke, potato, and braised onion. The grand finale was a never-ending medley of fresh desserts, including milk chocolate namelaka with orange sherbet and caramel sauce, bite-sized creampuffs, miniature French macarons, and a refreshing sunchoke ice cream with a garnish of pomegranate arils. Chris’ simple mantra – “to surprise is to delight” – is exhibited on every plate. “We’re entertainers and people come to see the show. They pay good money for front row seats and they don’t want to be let down.” Working diligently to that end, Chef Chris cordially invites his guests to be “introduced to something new,” and hopes that they leave having relished their culinary adventure. Dinner is served Wednesday to Sunday, lunch on weekends only. Reservations are required.

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ACTIVITIES On Winvian’s grounds, you can take a bike ride; get a relaxing spa treatment; practice yoga; play bocce, badminton, or, volleyball; go for a swim in the new 40’ pool; or participate in a private cooking class with Chef Eddy (that includes harvesting ingredients from the property’s gardens). Winvian can arrange for guided hiking, fishing, and historic house tours. Depending on the season, get whisked away to snowor water-ski, canoe, or kayak; go for a horse-back ride; and golf at an 18-hole championship course. Try your hand at paddleboarding; soar in a hot-air balloon; enjoy river tubing and pottery painting; shoot sporting clays; or, attend a concert. The fedora on Winvian’s sign? Heather told me Win, Sr. would often wear one. “It’s a symbol that you are home wherever you hang your hat.” Winvian can be your home for a few nights, and it will be an experience unlike any other – I promise you that. I’ve developed have a deep admiration and respect for what the Smiths have created while maintaining respect for Dr. Bird’s home and honoring Win, Sr. and Vivian’s legacy. There’s no place like this home.

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The

written and photographed by Maya Oren 40

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HE STABBED at the pit, causing the carbonated log pile to

collapse into ash. Bright orange flames licked the air, twisting up into a tunnel of grey smoke. Glowing specks of embers released into the golden afternoon sky. He took two iron grids off the back fence and placed them over the fiery pit, straddling the smoky fire. Four cast irons pans were then settled onto the cooking surface, heated quickly by the flames. I had never met Daniel Sabia; I walked through his cabin-style home tucked into the woods, and his husky puppy greeted me excitedly, jumping onto his hind legs and pulling at my oversized wool sweater, attempting to lick my face. We entered the kitchen where organized exotic and staple spices lined a floating shelf, and copper cookware hung on the walls. He grabbed a knife and chopped down a large pile of colorful winter veggies with large, rustic cuts. Two hunks of meat sat on the stove top in prep dishes – a tomahawk pork chop and a bone-in beef sirloin.” Daniel’s food story goes back to “forever ago.” Raised with Spanish and Sicilian roots, food was a central focus to his childhood. Cast iron was introduced to him at around eight or nine years old, predominantly for cooking steak. Experimenting often in the kitchen, he became especially fascinated by the element of heat, and this shaped his love for simple cooking. As a butcher and consulting chef, Daniel has built an entire brand around outdoor cooking, believing in living an authentic culinary lifestyle, with cast iron at the center.

We headed outside to a sitting area. Two benches faced each other, encircling a rectangular fire pit. Daniel stacked kindling into the pit and ignited it, building the fire. “[It is] a beautiful and harmonious relationship when fire and cast iron meet. [They are] two bedrock cooking methods of ctfoodandfarm.com

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humanity. It’s meant to be – cast iron and fire are two very powerful elements on their own, but when combined, they create a product that humans have been using to cook for centuries. Every time you bring a cast iron pan over the open flame, you’re connecting yourself with history and your ancestors. There is something beautiful in that; in a sense, you’re telling a story,” Daniel explained as the fire grew. He poked at it and embers escaped the metal grid. A few minutes after placing down the pans, he dropped the two pieces of meat into their skillets with their fattier sides facing down. They sizzled from the high heat, releasing caramelized juices into the skillet. Clouds of steam and smoke erupted from the fire. “Cooking in a seasoned cast iron pan adds a ton of flavor to your food because the sugars caramelize at a much higher temperature,” said Daniel. Cooking at high heat allows for products to maintain their raw and fresh center while giving them a sugary exterior crunch. “You’re expanding flavors that you never would have thought of before.” He removed the cuts from the fire and placed them on wooden cutting boards to rest. The chopped root vegetables got tossed into the pans, cooking in the meats’ leftover, fatty juices. They softened slightly, and gained a crispy, charred exterior. He pulled the pans from the fire, scraping the veggies into prep bowls, and placed the meats back in for a brief finish. He then plated the dishes – large slices of protein and cuts of meaty vegetables cascaded onto the boards. We sat at his dining table and I served myself some of each dish. Cuts of fresh pork and beef were layered with a jewel-toned assortment of fall vegetables. Each bite was an explosion of flavor and texture – rings of crunchy delicata squash, soft cabbage, and pops of pomegranate danced in my mouth; savory, juicy bites of meat worked perfectly between those of the root vegetables. Daniel inspires his peers as well as his patrons. Adam Greenberg, a West Hartford-born and bred chef and business-owner now based out of Washington, D.C., champions Daniel’s approach. “His passion for cooking food from the ground up is unique. Daniel believes in old world techniques and embracing nature. I've always admired him and his respect for the craft. I've yet to eat one of his outdoor dinners, but I can't wait! The best part of Daniel and his cooking is that there is no kitchen needed – just some fire and food.”

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[it is]a beautiful and harmonious relationship when fire and cast iron meet.

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The beauty of cast iron is its versatility. You can use the back of a pan like a skillet, steam in a Dutch oven, and prepare easy, delicious, one-pot meals. Cast iron pans are great for vegans or vegetarians to use, as well; they create beautiful textures in vegetables and fruits, and also impart minerals from the iron. Although extremely approachable and versatile, Daniel warns it’s a challenge for first-time users to learn about the difference in temperature between cast iron and other types of cookware. It will get much hotter and retain more heat than stainless steel. Home cooks should watch their pan and monitor the dish as it cooks. When buying cast iron, Daniel suggests buying a pre-seasoned one, especially if it’s your first. However, he personally loves salvaging his pans; his favorite one is about 45 years old. Originally purchased 40 years ago, the pan was forgotten in the back of a garage, and ended up at a tag sale where Daniel found it. “There was a layer of rust about an inch thick,” he says. He sat for hours scrubbing it with steel wool, heating it, and then scrubbing it again to bring out the rust and restore the iron. Since then, the pan has cooked numerous meals for holidays and special family gatherings, and is a prized possession. It might even make an appearance at Daniel’s upcoming collaboration with Chef Bill Taibe of Wesport’s The Whelk and Kawa Ni. TIP: To season your cast iron, scrape out the residue with steel wool; never use soap. Pour kosher salt and oil into the pan (about a heaping tablespoon of each) and rub into the dry pan using a cotton cloth. Wipe out, and then run under water. Dry off the pan immediately, and pour about a teaspoon of animal fat or any oil on hand, coating the surface and working in thoroughly. The iron should “drink up” the fat and should not appear greasy.

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By Kelley Citroni

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Rich Rochlin Photos


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What reminds you of home when you’re from no place in particular?

For Ki’yen Yeung, the feeling of home isn’t represented by a place, rather, than a thing – homemade food. Last month, photographer and ramen enthusiast Rich Rochlin and I enjoyed a few of the dishes that conjure up the essence of home for Ki’yen, and were delighted by the experience. It’s difficult to tell the story of Ki’yen and his new restaurant, Tiger Belly Noodle Bar in Granby, without telling the story of ramen – they mirror one another in significant ways. Etymology Hand-pulled Chinese noodles, or lamian, have been a staple country-wide since long before its recipe was first published in 1504. Traveling westward through Asia and Europe, and eventually across the Atlantic to the United States, “lamian” evolved into “lo-mein” for English speakers. Because there is no hard “r” consonant sound in Japanese, pronunciation became “ra-mian” as it made its way eastward – or, what we know today as “ramen.” Take a look at a world map and through the context of military conflict and migration, the seemingly-circuitous route that illustrates the birth of modern ramen becomes a natural one. Since the seventh century, more than fifteen wars have been fought between China and Japan, in addition to countless skirmishes, opposing political regimes, and small-scale invasions. Thousands of years of one culture occupying another’s homeland and hybrid representations of both begin to take form, most notably in the creative arts. (Think Moorish architecture in Spain, bahn-mi sandwiches served on French baguettes in Vietnam, and European Renaissance-style cathedrals in Central America and the Caribbean.) The geographical area most affected by the relationship between China and Japan is Taiwan. Having officially been a state of both countries (depending on the year), the presence of European colonialists, and the state of war, Taiwanese street food became the first medium through which Japanese and Chinese cultures became blended. While the concept of handmade noodles served in broth is historically Chinese, ramen is its Japanese interpretation. All in the Family “My father is from mainland China, my mother is from Taiwan, and I’m from New Jersey.” These are the basics of Ki’yen’s heritage, but I learn quickly that he’s not stayed in one place for long. He graduated from high school in 1998 in Amenia, New York, but has lived briefly in a host of Eastern American states including New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and now Connecticut. After attending the Art Institute of Philadelphia where he studied computer graphics and animation, Ki’yen

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KI’YEN STARTS HIS RAMEN STOCK WITH BUTCHER’S CUTS AND BONES: PORK SHANKS AND KNUCKLES, PIG AND CHICKEN NECKS, AND CHICKEN FEET. “THEIR PRODUCT IS SO HIGH-QUALITY,” KI’YEN EXPLAINED. “NOT ONLY DO THESE PARTS CREATE THE DEPTH OF FLAVOR I SEEK, THEY REPRESENT SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES, AND ALLOW ME TO ALTER MY RECIPE; I LIKE TAKING MY TIME.”

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stayed in the area until 2003, when his older sister asked for his help in her Chinese-American restaurant in East Granby. “I grew up in and around Chinese restaurants,” shared Ki’yen. “Both my sisters, my mother, and I have our own places.” Shortly after his sister sold, Ki’yen opened his first restaurant in East Windsor – Mei-Tzu Sushi Bar & Kitchen. Named after his mother, Mei-Tzu is a fantastic example of the amalgamation of Central and Eastern Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, and Japanese cuisine; it’s at the heart of what Ki’yen looks to celebrate. His primary goal when venturing out on his own was to avoid traditional Chinese-American takeout. “I love ramen! It’s Asian soul food.” (And as is the case with any soul food, it’s not prepared quickly.) To Ki’yen, that meant slowing down – methods of preparation, cook time, the pace of service, and developing his menu. The Fifth Element On top of the four basic tastes – saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and sweetness – is umami. Loosely translated from Japanese as “pleasant savory taste,” umami represents a quality that long went unnamed, but was alluded to in European and Asian epicurean texts when describing tomatoes, cheese, and kombu (a common East Asian seaweed). It wasn’t until 1908 when a Japanese professor named Kikunae Ikeda isolated umami’s source – glutamate. He observed that after completely evaporating, a large quantity of kombu broth left small crystals of concentrated umami flavor. Upon developing a cheap method to manufacture umami in its crystalized salt form, the world was introduced to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Why the chemistry lesson? Because for the majority of Americans who love Asian food, specifically Chinese and Japanese, we have limited exposure to traditional dishes that don't contain MSG. Not that Ki’yen wishes to begrudge restaurants who choose to use it – simply put, when done correctly, umami can be imparted and developed through other means without using manmade preservatives that contribute an unhealthy amount of salt and offer a disconcertingly one-dimensional flavor. “I get my glutamate from seaweed and mushrooms, and concentrated flavor from dried products – nothing fake.” Take Stock Before describing Ki’yen’s ramen broth and its distinctive qualities, it’s crucial to note the traits that it does not possess. The instant ramen that we’ve come to know shares almost nothing with its customary counterpart. The stuff in the packet – affordable and quick as it is – maintains a tinny, superficial element that, in this girl’s view, is an insult to the real thing. (The United States largely dictated the creation of our favorite college staple, albeit unknowingly. Once cheap flour flooded the Asian market after World War II, the invention of the dried noodle block soon followed.) Working with Red Apple Butchers in Dalton, Massachusetts, Ki’yen starts his ramen stock with butcher’s cuts and bones: pork shanks and knuckles, pig and chicken necks, and chicken feet. “Their product is

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so high-quality,” Ki’yen explained. “Not only do these parts create the depth of flavor I seek, they represent sustainable practices, and allow me to alter my recipe; I like taking my time.” This applies to creating Tiger Belly’s menu, as well. Four months after it opened its doors, Ki’yen has yet to celebrate a “grand opening.” “I never understood the rush to finalize a menu. I knew a handful of items I would have in the beginning, but starting small is win-win.” Opening with a pared down selection keeps costs lower for both parties, and allows Ki’yen to get a feel for his new audience and its appetite. Over the course of the next few months, he expects to add chicken pho and a classic Japanese fried tonkatsu (pork cutlet). “It has to progress naturally; otherwise, I’m not doing my business or my customers any favors.” The broth itself is created in an unhurried fashion, as well. Ki’yen’s tonkatsu ramen broth simmers for 30 hours before being served. The fat content in the bone marrow gives the stock – the surface of which is the color of coffee with milk – a glossy sheen, peppered with earthy and intense, savory globules. Ki’yen describes what I’ll call a “mirror test.” “If the broth doesn’t have that silky, lustrous reflection, it’s not big-boy ramen.” It serves as the base for The Darkness, served with Cantonese egg-style noodles, topped with fried garlic, a pickled egg, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, enoki mushrooms, green onions, and finished with black garlic oil. Just before sending out, The Darkness is topped with a fan of tender pork belly slices and flame-blistered with a blowtorch, heightening the aesthetics of the experience. For such a lengthy line-up of accoutrements, the dish’s presentation is clean, sharp, and uncluttered. With each spoonful devoured, a deeper, darker, and more nuanced broth is revealed. I’m floored that roughly two cups of liquid manages to taste slightly different over the brief course of its consumption. The crispy, raw vegetables soften slightly (if they last long enough) as the dish is enjoyed, presenting an ever-changing experience; because of this quality, I find I’m paying closer attention to my meal than I expected. Rich is as flummoxed as I am, but not at as big a loss for words. “Take oysters, for example” (something he and I also love). “We shuck them and enjoy as is – we taste the earth, right? It doesn’t speak to the chef’s instinct or ingenuity. This ramen is the opposite of that. Everything we taste has been coaxed over time – just outstanding.” The Lighter Side Ramen’s Vietnamese-originated counterpart, pho, is similar in its function, but not in its fashion. Made with rice noodles, pho’s base is a bone broth traditionally made with chicken or beef. It’s garnished with fresh cilantro, bean sprouts, green onions, and daikon radish for a refreshing crunch against the steaming soup. Depending on the region, the noodles vary in width, and the broth can be sweeter and more herbaceous. Just as with ramen, political climate dictated the story of pho’s popularity. More than a million North Vietnamese migrated south after the Partition in 1954, and an estimated three million fled Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to North America and Europe.

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When comparing the daintier, leaner, more opaque hue of Ki’yen’s beefbone pho broth to that of his ramen, it’s easy to assume that making pho stock is somehow “easier.” Not the case. Rich and I ordered the Brisket Pho, and we found that enjoying the two side by side sharpened our senses and brought attention to each aromatic element. Atop the ten-seat bar is a row of mason jars containing spices used in Ki’yen’s dishes – clove, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Having them in your sightline as you eat directs your focus, makes your palette keener, and prompts you to ask questions. Granted, I didn’t give him a choice, but he was very gracious about fielding all of our queries from both sides of the service bar, on top of cooking for a full house (along with one other chef), and keeping up with the rotating cast of takeout customers. The space, by the way, is 384 square feet, comprising the aforementioned L-shaped bar and table seating for about 25 people. “Pho is just as tricky,” explains Ki’yen. “I baby it early in the day and let it simmer 12 to 16 hours.” Something important to remember, though, is that it doesn’t have to taste exactly the same with each batch – he relishes in the fact that his stock changes from week to week – it pushes his creativity and stays true to its foundation. “Keeping it exactly the same would be counter-intuitive.” Use Your Head On the surface, the ultimate takeaway is clear: yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and yes, we’ll absolutely be back. But the contextual experience at Tiger Belly enhances the value and makes it distinct. Diners simply aren’t allowed to get distracted from their meal – all five senses are absorbed in the food. You can’t get complacent and just chow down. Ki’yen makes you quizzical and involved. He makes you feel part of something timeless, but never old. He makes you use your head. For the Record The focus for this piece is ramen and pho, but those aren’t the only reasons to get yourself to Granby. Rich and I enjoyed additional dishes such as the teppan-grilled Gyoza with ponzu dipping sauce and deep-fried Shanghai Nine Spice Chicken Wings ( just the wings; be still my heart!) When I return, I cannot wait to try the Bao Buns – steamed buns filled with braised pork belly and topped with lettuce and pickled cucumbers. Tiger Belly Noodle Bar is located at 9 Mill Pond Rd. in Granby and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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DIY Soy Jar Candles with Bright Edge Lynz Morahn of Bright Edge Candles in Ashford shared her tried-and-true recipe for homemade soy jar candles. It’s user-friendly and encourages you to use your imagination! Once the dark of winter starts to set in, you’ll nearly always find candles burning in our house. There’s nothing like a little bit of fire to warm your heart and soul, and the variety of scented candles that I’ve learned to make over the years means that our house can smell like bright citrus, herbal tea, tasty baked goods, or the familiar cinnamon and Scotch pine of the holiday seasons. I started making soy jar candles in December of 2007 using a kit that I bought on eBay and regular wide-mouth canning jars. I gave most of them away that year as holiday gifts, and I was hooked. It was such a pleasure to give handcrafted gifts for the holidays, and to keep a favorite few to enjoy at home. Now there are a variety of kits available, and it’s a great and easy way to get started with candle-making.

by Lynz Morahn Lisa Nichols photos

I use soy wax for my candles because it burns very cleanly, melts readily, and is easy to clean up. It can be removed from surfaces and fabrics with hot, soapy water. If you’ve ever tried to remove wax from carpeting or get the remnants of a regular candle out of a container, you’ll understand how much of a plus this is! It also makes it easy to reuse your candle jars. (In fact, my business offers discounts for returning jars for reuse.) I’ve experimented with several types of wax and settled on EcoSoya’s Container Blend 135 for jar candles, and their Pillar Blend for pillar and votive candles. Jar candles are easier to make than votives or pillars, which require molds and a release process. Anyone with a stove or microwave, a little time, and some willingness to experiment, can make a canning jar candle.

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For one jar candle, you will need: 1 lb. soy wax

1 wide-mouth pint-sized canning jar 1 oz. (or less) of oil for scent An appropriate 6” wick (more on this below) Glue dot to anchor the wick 1 qt. Pyrex (for microwave) measuring cup or double boiler setup (for stovetop) A means of holding the wick in place as the candle cools Meat or candy thermometer (135- 180°F range) Potholder or heavy glove Large metal spoon for stirring (if using double boiler setup) Hairdryer or heat gun (optional) Let’s talk a little more about scents and wicks, before we get down to candle-making. Wicks come in lots of materials and sizes. There are several factors that will affect what wick to use: the type of wax, diameter of the candle, and the heaviness of the scent. For more information, visit Peak Candle Supplies. For soy candles in canning jars, I’ve found that the 6” C-75 Cotton Cor Pre -tab b ed Wicks work well for the majority of scents. Scents that contain patchouli or other denser oils may need to be “wicked up” to C-80 or -85. A nice advantage to the cotton core wicks is that you’re not burning any metal as your candle burns. You’ll also need glue dots, which can be obtained in a kit or through Peak Candle. Personally, I find scent selection and blending to be the most fun part of the candle-making process (followed by naming the blends that I’ve created). You can use fragrance oils, essential oils, a blend of the two, or choose to leave your candles unscented. 62

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There are myriad choices available online, and most companies offer sample sizes. My favorite sites to order from include:

Bulk Apothoecary New Directions Aromatics Wellington Fragrance Company Camden-Grey Essential Oils Fragrance oils are generally less expensive, and essential oils have a wider price range. You can gain inspiration from other candle scents you’ve enjoyed, soaps, hand lotions, and perusal of the websites. Generally, you’ll want an ounce or less of oil per candle. With stronger scents, especially essential oils, you can often use less. (You can use a jigger or measured shot glass to measure out your oils once you’re ready to pour them.)

Basic Steps:

1. Position wick in jar

2. Heat wax to 180°F

3. Add oil to wax, blend

4. Cool wax to 135°F

5. Pour candle

6. Allow candle to cool fully

7. Smooth top and trim wick

Details:

1. Attach a glue dot to the bottom of the wick tab bottom of a clean, dry jar. Push down firmly; I use pairs of pencils bound with rubber bands (which double as a tool to hold the wick in a centered position, across the top of the jar). You’ll want to secure the top of the wick so that it is centered. You can improvise or purchase one of several types of holders for this purpose. 2. Heat the wax to 180°F. This should take about three to five minutes in the Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, or slightly longer using a double boiler. A deviation of a few degrees is ok. 3. Once the wax is to temperature, measure and add your oil, stirring thoroughly with either a large metal spoon or the thermometer.

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4. Allow the wax to cool to 135°F. (Again, a deviation of a few degrees is ok.) 5. Slowly and gently pour the wax into the jar, minimizing bubbles and splashing if possible. I find that it helps to wear oven gloves so that I can support the bottom of the measuring cup or pouring pot. 6. Allow the candle to cool fully (two to 10 hours, depending on ambient temperature). 7. Use the hairdryer or heat gun to re-melt the top of the candle and allow wax to flow into any hollows that formed during the cooling process. Bubbles commonly come up; sometimes you will need to do this reheating twice or more to remove all of them. (They also won’t hurt anything, so it’s up to you if you feel like smoothing them all out!) Trim the wick to ¼” above the wax after you’re done with this process.

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Congrats; you’ve made your first candle! But, maybe something odd happened when you made it, or when you burn it. This is where patience and experimentation come in. Here are a few things you might run into, and some suggestions on how to handle them: 1. Oil pools on the top of the candle after it’s done cooling. Try adding less oil, or adding it at a higher or lower temperature. Most oils will come with a suggested temperature point for adding them to the wax. It’s often unnecessary to be precise, but some oils are more finicky than others. (If this happens, you can still mop up the excess oil and burn the candle.) 2. The candle wax does not melt all the way to the edges of the container when burning, or the wick ‘drowns’ in the melted wax. Wick up a size or two. Ensure that the pouring temperature is correct. 3. The wick curls or mushrooms, and/or the candle smokes. Make sure to remove any excess or mushroomed wick before burning the candle. If this persists, try wicking down a size or using less oil. Scent, color, visual additives, candle size, type, and container style – the possibilities are endless. Have fun, and remember to keep your wicks trimmed and your candles away from flammable materials, burning on safe surfaces like tile, stovetop, or a ceramic plate. Cheers and happy candle-making!

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The Nutmeg : Collective Power In Partnership By Emily Woodward TRACy WInter caplanson Photos

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Being

a small business owner can be a lonely path, especially when creating small-batch, handmade goods. So often you come across industry peers who are kind and great to speak with, but when it comes down to nitty-gritty business details and you need to bounce ideas off of a fellow business owner, the climate becomes closed-off and competitive. There are endless examples of questions or concerns I’ve had: something as serious as how to handle an employee who is stealing, or as simple as where to find a particular ingredient or supply at a better rate. Sometimes, I just need to vent about a difficult customer. In nearly five years of business ownership, I found that I was quite alone, spending lots of time figuring things out for myself. I have my husband, who works with me at the bakery, and my extended family that also help out, but I wished for someone outside of our little circle to talk to – preferably a business owner. I know myself, and I know that I’m one of those people who prefer to ask others these sorts of things, and whether or not I take the advice, it’s always nice to have another point of view. Lucky for me, I found The Nutmeg Collective. In 2010, in an effort to bring together local makers selling on the handmade-shopping platform Etsy, and to form a louder collective voice, Team Hartbeat - based around the greater Hartford area - was formed.  As life happens, the original coordinator of this group faded out of the picture, other members passed the reigns, and the group went dormant until the end of 2013. In the hands of the current leadership, Hartbeat was re-instituted, maintaining its original mission. Members were encouraged to get to know one other, to meet up in person, and to share information.  Businesses from outside the greater Hartford area were asked to join, and Hartbeat was renamed The Nutmeg Collective, a name more fitting for a Connecticut-based group. The Collective morphed to include businesses that were not on Etsy, like mine – a brick-and-mortar food establishment which bakes everything in-house, from scratch, in small batches. About 45 members from Hartbeat have grown into more than 90 members of The Nutmeg Collective, with businesses all over the creative map – jewelry, pottery, bath and body, food, candles, handbags, photography, and home goods. We are a quirky, artistic, business-minded family which, though we are competitive businesspeople, is also highly supportive of our family members’ ventures. You know how every family has that person who everyone knows about: the crazy aunt who thinks she’s hip, but instead is tragically old-fashioned; the grandmother who drinks tea, nags the

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We are lucky to have such a warm and supporting environment in which to share and collaborate. 74

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family members to stay in line, and is always doing something with her hands; or, the fun uncle who rarely attends family functions but is always the hit of the party when he does. This is how I like to think about my fellow members of The Nutmeg Collective. We are lucky to have such a warm and supporting environment in which to share and collaborate. Members of our group have early and sometimes exclusive access to workshops, promotion on our social medial platforms - Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter – our online marketplace, a monthly newsletter, Nutmeg News, featuring different makers each time, and exclusive access to our online Facebook discussion group, where members post updates on markets and events, local classes, business opportunities, and, most importantly, provide a support group of like-minded individuals. We are doing our best to put Connecticut on the map for our local support, and one of our major goals has been to provide a safe space for creatives to ask questions and receive honest and helpful feedback and advice.  The Nutmeg Collective has truly become a creative chamber of commerce in Connecticut. We are the State’s largest network of handmade artisans and vintage collectors. The group is juried, meaning businesses must apply and are reviewed by a panel. We screen each applicant to ensure that he or she is, in fact, the person who is creating the goods sold; to confirm that he or she has a tax identification number for the State of Connecticut; and, to crosscheck the applicant’s type of business to make sure we aren’t overloaded in a particular product category. Most importantly, we look at applicants’ websites and social media accounts to see that they are actively building their business. This jurying process happens once per quarter. In December 2014, The Nutmeg Collective hosted our first Love Local Market at my bakery in Windsor, Get Baked. We quickly pulled it together just before Christmas, and we are proud to say that since then, we have hosted more than 20 amazingly-curated markets in this space. The Love Local Market has brought local shopping to Windsor in a way that hasn’t been done before. We have space for roughly 30 vendors in our location, and we try to bring the best makers into our indoor market during the fall, winter, and spring. Our goal is to provide a comfortable and high-end shopping experience to


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We are a quirky, artistic, business-minded family which, though we are competitive businesspeople,is also highly supportive of our family members’ ventures.


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not only our customers, but to our vendors, as well. This has been one of the Collective’s greatest accomplishments so far, and we are hopeful that we can help create more pop-ups around the State to help promote the Collective, our members, and all Connecticut makers.  If you think you could be a good fit for The Nutmeg Collective, please visit our website and click on “Join the Collective.” We makers need to stick together and be supportive of each other. The business world is tough enough as it is without trying to do it all on your own. We are family; we can be your family.

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Gonna

Makers The Artisan Entrepreneur

Make

Written and Photographed by Winter Caplanson

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Is your idea of the perfect commute to work wearing your slippers and carrying a cup of coffee downstairs to your home craft studio where the fireplace crackles and your favorite music plays? It’s not only possible to thrive on your own terms in your own craft business, but you may be further along in preparing for it than you think! I write to you as someone who started, ran for more than a decade, and then sold a profitable soapmaking company. I also worked with countless artisan entrepreneurs as a founder and executive director of the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market. Here, I explore the elements of success with Denise O’Reilly, owner of The Burnt Shop. In two years, her woodburning artisan business has grown sufficiently enough to allow her to do it full -time, replacing her corporate salary. Here’s one indicator you might be well suited to entrepreneurship: you’ve already been one. Were you the lemonade stand kid? I sold tomatoes grown in my grandfather’s garden from a table by the road and my handmade paper-bead jewelry in his five and dime store. In fifth grade, during classes, I crafted little daisies made of yarn on a vintage brass form, left long a long yarn “stem,” and sold them as bookmarks to peers until I was shut down by school authorities. Through high school, a wild-crafted wreath business kept spending money in my pocket. Entrepreneurs can’t help it; we keep migrating toward selling things. Denise’s previous businesses include catering, in-home daycare, residential cleaning, two restaurants, and decorative painting. Through them, she learned skills that would serve her well with The Burnt Shop, including time management, understanding codes and regulations, documentation, communication with clients, financial record keeping, and how to delight customers. Where do craft business ideas come from? Often, it’s from the reception you’ve already received to something you’ve made. Before the handmade soap craze had blossomed, I learned to make it for myself so that I could enjoy great soap with culinary-leaning essential oil blends. (Coriander! Bergamot! Rosemary! Dill!) After giving to friends collections of my homemade soap for Christmas, they wanted to buy it for

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Valentine’s Day gifts. “I’m not in business,” I repeated, but the more I said it, the more I wondered if I could be, and soon, I was! Denise wanted to make holiday gifts for family and friends that would be useful and lasting. She bought a woodburning pen from Joanne Fabric and created her own patterns on inexpensive wooden spoons. Customers loved them, and she loved the process. “It was so peaceful and so different than any creative thing I had ever done. Nothing had to dry, nothing smelled bad, nothing was sticky, and it required very little space, actually. I could do it on my living room couch with just my pen and that piece of wood. I put a couple of pictures up on Facebook and the reaction was incredible compared to what I was used to as a grandmother posting pictures of her dog or grandchildren. With hundreds of likes on a post and people asking to place orders, I said ‘Oh my God; this could be something.’” Starting your own business gives you the opportunity to craft a product that speaks deeply to you. Denise feels called to make things that are expedient, creative, and original. When the product matches your DNA, you’ll believe in it, and you can sell it. “I would hope that I go into someone’s house who had bought one of my pieces 10 years down the line, and it would be all careworn and you could tell that he or she used it every day. That’s important to me.” The Burnt Shop now produces cutting boards, spoons, wooden spreaders, stainless steel and leather-wrapped flasks, apothecary bottles, growlers, spray bottles for essential oils, olive oil bottles, marble pastry boards, wooden salad bowls, and slate cheese boards and coasters. “I don’t want to leave my home to go to work. I want to walk downstairs at any hour of the day or night. My kids can drop in any time and they know that if I’m busy, they can sit down in my studio and discuss the problems of the world. They couldn’t do that when I was working outside the home. I can be at home for my family, and still be producing. I feel like I won the lottery.” Business is like math: there is a right answer. If you are enjoying what you are doing and your sales are meeting or exceeding your goals, then you are doing it right. It is not important that you are doing it like anyone else. It does not matter that while you are better at your craft than you were yesterday, you are not as good as you will be tomorrow. There is a satisfyingly -clear and -quick connection between doing a good job and being rewarded for it that does not often come in working for someone else. “I looked at a book in one of the woodcraft stores, and it had an image of a very dark design with a big ‘x’

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through it: "this is wrong; you’re scorching the wood". But all of my designs are very dark and bold, it was an 'ah-ha' moment that I don’t have to do anything that anybody tells me to. I can do whatever is visually appealing to me. “I like the idea that if you looked into a big, beautiful kitchen, maybe a white kitchen, and you saw one of my spoons in a crock with other spoons, it would stand out – you can see it, like kitchen jewelry. You need a bold design to achieve that.” Denise loves to make (and her customers most love to buy) cutting boards and cheese boards. “I was a cheese monger at Whole Foods. They are a fantastic $25 gift, a wonderful little gem. Each is a little bit different. Each one that I touch, I love.” You alone will define the structure of your business. Working from home can allow you to work non-traditional hours or care for children. You control your growth. Your business goals are your own. Your idea of success is up to you. So, let’s get to some nitty-gritty advice. Where do you start? Really look at your desired product category and see if it’s saturated. “You may have the best product ever, but if you are trying to get into a market or event and they already have their soapmaker, candlemaker, or jewelry person, you aren’t getting in. If you’re going to go into a flooded niche, you’re going to need a categorical differentiator to stand out.” An example: there are many candlemakers making fine products. Our friend Lynz Morahn at Bright Edge pours great candles into vintage glass canning jars. Boom. That’s the ticket. In this early phase, you might sell at small farmers’ markets, church craft shows, and to friends and family. But very quickly, you need to take steps to make yourself look like a viable business to market organizers, shop owners, or anyone with whom you’d like to work. “You do have to decide whether you are, in fact, a true business, and you have to make the jump,” advises Denise. Structuring your business properly should include: • Insurance. It’s essential to protect yourself if you are selling anything, it is required to sell at most reputable events, and is probably not as expensive as you fear. • Setting up a legal business structure provide protections to personal assets – a sole proprietorship and LLC is a common example. • Register as a business entity with local, State, and Federal government. This is required to open a business checking account; you will realize you need one the first

time someone writes your business a check and you can’t cash it. Register to collect Sales and Use Tax which is required by law if you sell taxable items. • Get your financial recordkeeping in order. You may want to hire an accountant. Doing it yourself? I love Wave’s free software for small business accounting, invoicing, and credit card processing.  • A solid logo, some quality photography, and a polished web presence. These investments make you look professional. • Time management. Making product will take, on average, about 50% of your work time. The rest will be spent on marketing, selling, record keeping, paying taxes, completing event applications, and the like. Once you’re underway, here are some ways to step up sales: • Make the best product. Happy customers evangelizing via positive word-of-mouth is the best advertising. • Keep improving your product. Out- of-area recon can inspire you with new ideas as can online learning from education websites like CreativeLive. • Find your people. What shows and venues are frequented by the customers who would appreciate your product? Denise looks for juried shows with all handmade products and considers how long the event has been running, how the organizers are advertising, and whether or not the event has a sizable social media following and a respected reputation. • Align yourselves with other artisans who are serious. Denise relies on fellow members of The Nutmeg Collective to recommend qualified resources, help her vet prospective shows, co-market, and cheer for one another! • Use social media to share photos of new designs you are making and use it as test marketing. “I can tell it’s a hit if I get 50 likes on Facebook or Instagram. Also, it’s a good sign if the image receives several comments. If I immediately get people inquiring where they can buy it, I start making that stuff like crazy and add it to my wholesale offerings,” explains Denise. • Evolve all-important display and packaging by looking at other maker’s booths. Taking a field trip to progressive metropolitan areas like New York can be especially enlightening. • Make your sales language leaner. No one likes to be sold to; a wonderful product with a name that resonates may be enough, but if not, say as little as you can that’s exactly what customers need to hear. “My 32-oz. Amber Apothecary Bottles are cool and retro, but on their own, they don’t sell

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well. I tell people they are the perfect size to be filled with oils, flavored water, cold brew coffee, liquors, and herbal vinegars. Then, they buy.” Invest in upgrades as soon as you can. Professional grade equipment is easier and faster to use, and delivers a more consistent product. Buying raw materials in bulk saves money, but will require more storage. Many makers prefer to rearrange, reorganize, and pare down family possessions to allow for more space for the business, rather than renting a studio. This keeps overhead down, allows for more permissive regulations as a “home-based business,” and means that improvements like lighting and electrical upgrades are also investments in your home. Work does not feel so much like work when it’s your own business. Enjoy the freedom of taking a nap between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., opting to pop back into the studio to work from midnight until 2:00 a.m. Have your dogs with you. Make a cup of tea or use the bathroom whenever you’d like! You’re the boss! Never forget, though, that artisan entrepreneurs who succeed are self-motivated and really enjoy being productive. Perhaps this is not the moment for you to go into business. Instead, create for gifts, barter, swaps, and donate to charitable events. Keep making, keep evolving, and your skills will be all the better when it is time to launch your artisan entrepreneur adventure! The Burnt Shop can be found at quality farmers’ markets and events throughout Connecticut and at West Elm in West Hartford and Westport; Rings and Things in Colchester; Whole Harmony Apothecary in Haddam; Soulbury in Woodbury; the New Britain Museum of American Art; Joy and Wit Interiors in Granby; Pious Bird in Black Rock, Local Soul in Wilton, and Rootz in Huntersville, North Carolina.

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The Stonington Village Farmers’ Market at The Velvet Mill by Amy White Photos by Winter Caplanson and Europa Photography

The Velvet Mill, a sprawling maze of artists’ studios and small businesses located on Bayview Avenue in Stonington, was built in 1888 to develop new industry – namely manufacturing velvet cloth. Today, the building is an expansive space illuminated with natural light that beams in through the walls of windows. Visitors can’t help but close their eyes and imagine the rambling plant once filled with millworkers running hundreds of looms, bolts of luxurious velvet dyed in rich jewel tones stacked neatly nearby. Like in so many New England mills, the machinery stopped, and this one, too, closed its doors. But New Englanders are a thrifty and determined bunch. So, about ten years ago, a small group of local artisans banded together to repurpose the building, rather than tear it down. Today, the space has become a second home to a creative community of photographers, painters, sculptors, glassblowers, fiber artists, potters, and printmakers. Entrepreneurs have opened small businesses that are thriving in the old Mill, including an artisanal bakery, a cheese shop, an award-winning

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nano-brewery, a yoga studio, and some vintage boutiques. Weekends at the Mill are marked by a Vintage Flea Market, where one can find perfectlyseasoned cast iron cookware laid alongside antique gold and silver jewelry. And, five years ago, the Stonington Village Improvement Association decided to move its increasingly popular farmers' market inside the Mill for the winter. From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays from November through April, the Stonington Village Farmers’ Market at The Velvet Mill attracts visitors from the Town and surrounding communities who come to shop for fresh, healthy, local ingredients. The Market gathers 25 permanent food and farm vendors and 10 rotating craft vendors every week. The farmers sell locally-grown fruits and vegetables throughout the winter, purposefully using greenhouses to produce crops year-round. So, while it is a matter of course that there are plenty of potatoes, onions, and storage crops for sale, there are also crisp greens, greenhouse tomatoes, and a host of other veggies on hand and harvested each week. In fact, as Market Master Kevin Bowdler says, “This is one of the few places in Connecticut to get fresh produce throughout the winter directly from the farmer.” Of course shoppers are glad to have a place to buy local vegetables all year; however, farmers’ markets such as this one are critical for the farmers, as well. Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust’s vice president of Development and External Relations states, “Nextgeneration farmers selling directly to consumers at farmers’ markets have nearly a 10 percent greater chance of staying in business than those selling goods through traditional retail. When family farmers thrive, our community, economy, and families thrive.”

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Farm-grown food is not the only thing available at this lively market, however. Other native food items include preserves, baked goods, poultry, meat, seafood, maple syrup, honey, cheese, and prepared foods such as salsa, stews, and pot pies. Craft vendors offer an array of handmade items perfect for gift-giving. Parents can drop off rambunctious children at the kids’ program run by the Stonington Community Center to tend to their purchasing in peace. Local musicians entertain guests with softly-strummed guitars and lively fiddles. In one


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light-filled area, patio tables and chairs are set up where shoppers can rest and enjoy a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup.

Photo Winter Caplanson

Whether they come for the Farmers’ Market, art studios, Beer’d Brewing, Zest Bakery, the Vintage Flea Market, or all of the above, people from all walks of life are finding The Velvet Mill to be a Saturday destination. As you stroll through the maze, familiar faces keep appearing, people are smiling and holding hands, some are walking their dogs, and all seem to be nibbling, sipping, chatting, and buying. The vibe is one of a community gathering to share food, stories, and advice. Even the purveyors themselves notice. As one farmer put it, “We sell at a lot of the farmers’ markets, but this one is the most fun!”

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Winter Farmers’ Markets by Amy White Photos by Winter Caplanson, Charlie Colasurdo and Eurpoa Photography Billings Forge Farmers’ Market The Studio, 563 Broad St., Hartford, Thursdays through May 25 / 11:00 am. – 2:00 p.m.

This Market is the largest and only year-round farmers’ market in Hartford. It was originally developed to bring fresh food to its neighbors in Frog Hollow. Now, the Market prides itself in feeding families across the city through doubling the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) coupons and a bus service supported by The Hartford and Aetna. The first Market of each month features additional craft and specialty vendors, guest food trucks, and live music.

Coventry Winter Farmers’ Market Coventry High School, 78 Ripley Hill Rd., Coventry Sundays (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) through March 19 / 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Held in Coventry High’s cafeteria, the Coventry Winter Farmers’ Market boasts more than 25 full-time vendors and a variety of guest vendors each week. Visitors will find fresh produce, locally-raised meat and poultry, and CT-produced foods such as honey, maple syrup, hot sauces, barbecue sauces, preserves, and pickles. A professional knife sharpener is a mainstay, and artisans create a dazzling array of unique, handmade items.

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Photo Charlie Colasurdo

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The Dudley Farm Winter Market The Dudley Farm, 2351 Durham Rd., Guilford Saturdays, February 4, March 4, April 1, and May 6 / 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Photo Charlie Colasurdo

The Dudley Farm holds its Winter Market in the Munger Barn, originally built in 1890 in Madison. When the Munger Lumber Company closed, the barn was dismantled and stored at The Dudley Farm Museum until it was restored in 2002 via an old-fashioned barn-raising. During the winter, the Market is held the first Saturday of each month, weather permitting. It offers baked goods, eggs, handmade crafts, jams and jellies, naturally-raised meats, pickles, and winter vegetables. The Dudley Farm Museum, Munger Barn, and its surrounding property allow visitors to experience life as it was in the 19th century.

Ellington Farmers’ Market YMCA, 11 Pinney St., Ellington Saturdays, January 14 and 28; Feb 11 and 25; and March

The goals of the Ellington Farmers’ Market Association are to provide the community with an assortment of products that are grown, harvested, produced or handcrafted in the State; to offer an activity that fosters social gathering and interaction; and, to preserve Ellington’s unique agricultural heritage by supporting local farmers. There is one of every farm product available at the market: seafood, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, dairy, eggs, cheese, and produce. The addition of two sensational bakeries, farm-produced jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes, together with specialty foods and artisan wares, make it a onestop-shopping location. 

Photo Charlie Colasurdo

11 and 25 / 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m

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Photo Winter Caplanson

Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market Litchfield Community Center, 421 Bantam Rd., Litchfield Saturdays, January 7 and 21; February 4 and 25; March 11 and 25; April 8, 15 and 29; and May 13 and 27 / 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The Farm-Fresh Market was created in 2007 with 15 local vendors, and has grown over the years to become a staple of the Litchfield Hills community throughout all seasons. Voted Best in Class by the American Farmland Trust’s Farmers’ Market Celebration, this market is a program of Sustainable Healthy Communities, a public charity focused on promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles in the Northwest Hills. In addition to vendors, the Market features a cookbook exchange, guest artists, cooking demonstrations, and a nonprofit spot each week. 

Norfolk Farmers’ Market Norfolk Town Hall, 19 Maple Ave., Norfolk Saturdays, January 7 and 21; February 4 and 18; March 4 and 18; and April 1 and 15 / 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m

Photo Winter Caplanson

Sponsored by the Town of Norfolk, this Market aims to establish a permanent regional farmers’ market with a spectrum of CT offerings that draw consumers from a broad area, to increase profits for producers who are already established, and to create an outlet for small producers who may not have one otherwise. 2017 marks the start of a new tradition; the Winter Markets are held inside the Town Hall and comprise eight food-only vendors. 

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Suffield Farmers’ Market

Storrs Winter Farmers’ Market

Suffield High School in the Commons, 1060 Sheldon St., Suffield

Buchanan Auditorium at Mansfield Public Library, 54 Warrenville Rd., Mansfield Center

Saturdays, January 14 and 28; and February 11/

Saturdays, January 7 and 21; February 4 and 18; March 4

10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m

and 18; and April 8 and 22 / 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Suffield Farmers’ Market maintains a symbiotic relationship with the Suffield Regional Agriscience Center (SRAC). A wonderful example is an SRAC student who showcases her creativity, botanical knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills through her business Terrariums by Grace. The Agriscience Center offers students throughout the greater Hartford region a rigorous program to prepare them for careers in animal, plant, and environmental sciences or general agriculture. The Market on February 11 is run in conjunction with the Agriscience Center and will be held at the Large Animal Facility there. 

Founded in 2008 in response to an increased demand for local foods year-round, this Winter Market features vendors selling cold storage crops, meat and dairy products, preserved foods, baked goods, and honey, maple syrup, and locally-made hot sauces. Additionally, farmers who vend at this Market are able to make use of low tunnels to extend their season and grow cold-hearty crops through the winter and early spring, making fresh produce available to market-goers all year.

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Winter Harvest Market at Cold Spring Farm 46 Town Rd., Colchester Sundays (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) / 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The folks at Cold Spring Farm extended their market season for local shoppers, year-round. Vendors offer produce, greens, herbs, flower arrangements, winter food shares, local meat and seafood, eggs, baked goods, hot coffee and beans to go, cheeses, assorted olive oils and balsamic vinegars, soaps and bath products, jewelry, pottery, woodwork, and handmade clothing. Visitors are invited to meet at The Breakfast Barn, cozy up to the woodstove, and tour the Farm, too.

Westport Farmers' Market 7 Sylvan Lane, Westport, CT Saturdays through March 11 / 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Originally held at the Westport Country Playhouse, the Westport Farmers’ Market was founded in 2006 by Paul Newman and Michel Nischan. Today, the market is blooming with 45 vendors. Thousands of shoppers attend each week to visit their favorite GMO-free vendors and organic farmers, grab lunch from one of several food trucks, take a yoga class, or watch a chef demonstration.

Photo Charlie Colasurdo

Click Here for a Virtual Visit to the Westport Farmers' Market!

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A Wise Old Bird by Matt Skobrak

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Unless

you or someone you know raises laying hens, chances are you will not come across the beautiful delicacy that is the spent laying hen. In most commercial egg-laying operations, laying hens are culled from the flock after 18 months, regardless of their productivity, and are sold off as a commodity byproduct. These spent hens make their way into processed food, bound to serve to public schools, the military, and prison systems. Those chickens deemed unfit for human consumption are further processed into dog food. The spent hens of backyard hobbyists and small scale producers live longer and much happier lives, free to roam their land, dig and scratch, nurtured by quality feed and garden scraps. But, their fate is often unfortunate. Come autumn, when it is time to review the flock, keeping an old bird that has stopped producing eggs through the winter sometimes just doesn’t make sense; spent hens will continue to require food and shelter and worst case scenario, could fall ill, spreading sickness to the rest of the otherwise healthy flock. One fall evening at the restaurant in Vermont where I was the chef, one of our small-scale egg producers came in with a cooler full of pasture-raised spent hens which were fed grain from a nearby brewery for their entire lives. The farmer explained to me that they had given the hens to their Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) members as a bonus in their last share of the year, only to be swamped with e-mails and grumpy phone calls by their disappointed customers. “The meat was tough; my dinner was ruined; is this some kind of game bird?” Because meat birds are far younger, they have more collagen, which converts to gelatin during the stock-making process and creates a lovely, mouth-coating texture. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that if you choose to use spent hens for stock, it will be leaner and lighter-bodied than that made with meat birds. So forget chicken soup and coq au vin and play to the instrument, not to the song. I happily took the whole crop of spent hens from the farmer and wow! I have never tasted better chicken in my life. The meat is a dark maroon color which looks more like pork than chicken, and the fat is a gorgeous, deep gold. Yes, it is tough, but not any more so than pork, so I figured I’d treat it the same way. When I think pork, I think sausage; when I think sausage, I think biscuits and gravy.

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Buttermilk Rye Biscuits With Chicken, Apple, and Whiskey Sausage Sawmill Gravy Chicken, Apple and Whiskey Sausage 1

whole stewing hen or rooster, deboned, cut into 1” chunks

2

Tbsp. coarse salt

½

tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1

tsp. fresh thyme

1

tsp. fresh sage

½

tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2

apples, skin on, cored, and roughly chopped

¼

c. Bourbon (or your preferred whiskey) or brandy Mix the chicken with the salt, black pepper, thyme, sage, red pepper flakes, chopped apples, and whiskey. Let mixture chill for at least six hours (preferably overnight). Before grinding into sausage, transfer the chilled and marinated mixture to a baking sheet, spreading evenly in one layer, and freeze for about an hour. Remove from freezer and place into a food processor and pulse until mixture is ground. Alternativly, grind with an old-school cast iron hand-crank meat grinder or stand mixer attachment. This recipe only requires a coarse grind – no need to switch dies.

Sawmill Gravy 1/4

c. flour

c. milk

2

c. chicken stock

Salt and pepper In a cast iron or heavy bottom pan over high heat, brown the sausage. Once the sausage is fully cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside for later. Add the chicken stock and scrape the bits of sausage that have stuck to the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce until there is only ½ c. left and lower the heat. Make a slurry by mixing the milk and flour in a separate bowl until smooth, and add the reduced stock. Simmer until the gravy has thickened. Add the sausage back to the pan, mix thoroughly, and season with salt and a generous amount of crushed black pepper.

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When I think pork, I think sausage; when I think sausage, I think biscuits and gravy.

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Buttermilk Rye Biscuits 1 3/4

c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting

¼

c. rye flour

½

tsp. salt

1

Tbsp. baking powder

½

tsp. baking soda

6

Tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4

c. buttermilk, plus a little more for brushing Preheat oven to 450°. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I like to use a box grater to shred the butter into small pieces, like shredded cheese. Using your fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until a very sticky dough starts to form. Dust a working surface with flour, place the dough on the surface, and roll it out into a rectangle about 1” thick. Cut the biscuits into 3” square pieces. Place the cut biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm topped with Sawmill Gravy and a fried egg.

Matt Skobrak is a chef-turned-farmer. A graduate of New England Culinary Institute, Matt has worked in the farm-to-table and local beer community in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. With his partner Callah Racine, he started The Tiny Acre Farm in the winter of 2015, a one acre bio-intensive market garden in Woodstock, CT, with the mission of producing the highest quality specialty produce for chefs throughout Connecticut and Boston. Follow The Tiny Acre Farm on Instagram and Facebook.ok.

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Gimme SOME SUGAR

Maple Sugaring at Cedars of Lebanon Farm

BY AMY SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY BY WINTER CAPLANSON and MARGIT FISH


photo / winter caplanson

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All the signs are there:

freezing cold nights and warmer days, melting snow turning to slush and mud, and the sun in the sky a little longer each day. The first tap of the season is about to go in! With a whir of the drill and a gentle tap of the hammer, the drips of clear, water-like sap flow into the bucket hung from the tap. If you are quiet and still, you can hear the soft “plunk” as each drip falls. Only 120 more to go — so begins the wonderfully-busy season of sugaring. When the evaporator is boiling, the scent of maple syrup in the air clings to the walls and ceiling of the sugar shack. With the cold temperatures of winter still lingering, boiling sap is a great way to stay warm, as temperatures in the sugar shack can approach 110° F with high humidity. Other ways we stay warm during sugaring: splitting and stacking firewood, hauling pails filled with sap from the woods to the collection barrels, and standing over the hot stove as the sap reaches syrup stage. All that work is worth it for that first taste; and there is nothing like sticky maple goodness still warm from the pan. Cedars of Lebanon Farm in Lebanon began in 2002 with me, my husband Sam, and our five daughters raising dairy goats. In 2012, our daughter Abigail Button became the farm’s sole proprietor. We have been producing maple syrup since 2010 and joined the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut in 2016. We began very small with just 20 taps and the stove in our kitchen. Each year, we’ve expanded, producing 12 gallons of syrup over a wood-fired evaporator last year alone.

Whether you tap just a few trees or hundreds, the method for making maple syrup is the same: collect, boil, and bottle. The basic collection equipment involves spiles (also known as taps), a hammer, a drill with a bit that matches the spile diameter, and a collection container. The methods of extraction and production differ between the two. For small-scale producers, the collection bucket can be as simple as a clean, empty milk jug with a hole for the spile, tied to the tree. Other modest collection methods include galvanized or plastic buckets, tubing, or sap sacks. Large scale producers use plastic tubing with vacuum pumps and reverse osmosis equipment. For our farm, sap sacks are the best method – they are inexpensive, require minimal storage space during the off-season, and are user-friendly. Raw sap looks and tastes exactly like water, but don’t let that fool you. Some say you can just barely detect a hint of maple in it, but that may just be a placebo effect. Turning raw sap into syrup requires something as simple as the stove in your kitchen, or can be as complicated as reverse osmosis machines, large evaporators, filtration presses, and bottling equipment. Black Maple, Red Maple (also known as Swamp Maple), and the famous Sugar Maple are the three varieties that produce sap for maple syrup. The variety of tree dictates the amount of sugar content in the sap; Sugar Maples contain the highest concentration. This, in turn, affects how many gallons of sap you need to collect to produce one gallon of syrup. Sugar Maples are in the range of 40-50 gallons of sap per gallon of syrup, while Swamp Maples average a 60:1 to 80:1 ratio.

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The best time to identify trees is in the spring. The most common in Connecticut are Black and Red Maples, while Sugar Maples are more prevalent northward. Take note of the tree’s health and diameter. Trees smaller than 10” in diameter should not be tapped; those with 10-17” diameters can have a single tap. Healthy, large trees can be tapped with two (or rarely three) taps, depending on diameter. Taps are bored into the tree about 4’ from ground level, not the snow level, with the best placement over a main root. We use a 5/16” drill bit because it does less damage to the tree, helping it to heal faster. Drill a 1.5” hole at a very slight upward angle. Often you will see the sap start to flow from the hole as soon as it is drilled. The spile is then gently tapped into the hole and the sap sack is hung on the spile. Each year, we rotate our taps’ placement by moving 3-4”to the side or 6-8” up or down from the previous tap. Depending on conditions, one tap can produce between 10-20 gallons of sap per season. In Connecticut, tapping generally occurs in mid-February and lasts about six weeks. This is when the temperature during the day warms up to over 40° and the nighttime temperatures fall back below freezing. The daily dramatic swing in temperature causes the sap to flow up and down the tree. Once the buds begin to appear and swell on the branches, the season is ended. (Another indicator is when we can hear the peep frogs for three nights in a row.) Temperature isn’t the only factor that affects production. Connecticut is in the midst of a serious drought. It increases stress on the trees, which was visible in an earlier-than-normal change in foliage this past fall. Our farm has made the decision to limit how many taps we put out this spring so the trees aren’t strained any more than they can handle. This decision will limit the amount of syrup we can produce, but will ensure that the trees can weather the lack of rain and remain healthy for years to come.

photo / margit fish

When tapping just a few trees, sap can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days without spoiling. If you need to wait longer before boiling, sap can be frozen. Boiling a small batch of just a few gallons of sap is doable on the kitchen stove. The steam that is given off will leave a sticky residue on your walls and cupboards, so larger batches are better done outside or in a sugar shack. There are many do-it-yourself versions of evaporators that can be found on internet searches. An evaporator is a large wood-or gas-fired stove with wide, flat pans over the fire box. The large surface area evaporates the water in the sap at a faster rate, shortening the sap-to-syrup stage. As the water boils out of the sap, the sugars caramelize and the liquid thickens. One way to test if your syrup is done is known as “the drip test.” Dip a spoon into the boiling sap and watch the liquid drip back into the pan. If the sap still needs to boil more, the sap will fall off of the spoon in

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Raw sap looks and tastes exactly like water, but don’t let that fool you. ctfoodandfarm.com

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separate droplets. When the syrup starts to run off the spoon in a stream, then it’s almost done. It is finished when the stream widens to a sheet of syrup. At Cedars of Lebanon Farm, we test our syrup using a hydrometer, an instrument for determining the specific gravity of a liquid. Hot maple syrup is poured into a tall, cylindrical cup and the hydrometer is lowered in gently. The level at which the hydrometer floats and the temperature of the syrup are calculated to determine the amount of sugar in the syrup, a measurement called Brix. Syrup can only be sold if it is a minimum of 66° Brix. If the syrup is more than 68° Brix, it will crystalize. Maple syrup should always be stored in either glass or food-grade plastic bottles. We use glass to highlight the lovely hue. It’s commonly known that maple syrup is graded according to color; however, a new grading system was adopted by the USDA in 2015. Former Grade B syrup is now Grade A Dark Amber, while former Grade C is now Grade A Very Dark Amber. What was Grade A now has two delineations: Grade A Golden and Grade A Amber. Syrup is bottled at a minimum of 181°F to be safe. Occasionally, bottled syrup can grow mold. It is harmless and if it develops, the syrup can be poured into a pan through cheesecloth to strain out the mold. According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association (MMPA), reheating the syrup to a slight boil will kill any mold spores, making the syrup safe to use. The MMPA also recommends storing unopened bottles of syrup in a cool place, and opened bottles in the refrigerator for up to a year. The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association advises freezing for long term storage. Our sugaring season starts in early fall when we start watching the trees and weather patterns. Sam checks the sugarbush (our concentration of maples) for trees that are stressed or failing and marks them to be skipped. Next, our large storage drums are sanitized, and the evaporator and stove are inspected for parts that may need fixing. From the late fall into the winter months, we cut, split, and stack the wood we will use in the evaporator. On quiet evenings, Sam assembles all the sap sacks with their holders and packs them in groups of 20, with spiles, in plastic totes. Around the middle of January, I start tracking the temperatures, noting the daily highs and lows and looking for a trend toward warmer days. When the weather is right, we pack the totes into the truck and head out. Now things get busy! Every afternoon,

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photo / margit fish

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photo / winter caplanson

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When explaining how we make our management decisions, I like to quote Dr. Seuss from The Lorax: “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.�

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collecting the sap is a family affair. Sam and the kids fill buckets from the sap sacks on the trees and haul them to the truck, and I dump the buckets into three 35-gallon drums in the truck bed. (This year, our oldest daughter Abigail is expecting her first baby, so she’ll be driving.) Back at the farm, the drums are emptied with a siphon hose into additional drums located at the shack. The sap is filtered through fine mesh screens and poured into the syrup pans on the hot evaporator. Someone (usually me) stays in the sugar shack for eight to 10 hours a day, keeping the fire going and adding more sap as needed. When it is almost syrup, we transfer the liquid to pots on our antique propane stove where I finish the syrup in small batches. This gives us greater control over the final product, and lowers the risk of accidentally ruining it if you get distracted and walk away. (The syrup on the stove turns into a solid sugar mass.) Keeping our syrup in small batches also allows us to infuse the syrup with our special twist.

photo / winter caplanson

Our second-oldest daughter, Nathalie, was away at culinary school a few years ago and was working with infused oils and vinegars in her classes. She suggested that the family try it with maple syrup. Since then, we have carefully chosen and tested a new flavor to create each year. We’ve developed vanilla bean-, cinnamon-, coffee bean-and ginger-infused maple syrups using whole products and zero artificial additives. Our infusions add a subtle backdrop, and never overwhelm the syrup’s natural flavor. 128

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When the syrup is finished at 66° Brix, it is poured through fine cheesecloth to filter out sediments that naturally develop in the cooking process; then, it is funneled into glass bottles. Caps are placed and a plastic seal is fitted over them. Bottles are labeled, marked with a batch number, and set aside to cool. During this harvesting time, the Farm is open to visitors to come and watch as we produce the syrups. Infused syrups are available for sampling; we post our hours and special events on our Facebook and website. The newest trend in large-scale maple syrup production involves planting groves of sapling maple trees close together with the tops of the trees lopped off. The sap is extracted by a vacuum tube and pumps are installed in the top of each tree. Producers have reported a higher yield and a longer harvest through this method, and it allows an increased quantity of trees per acre and therefore, reduced labor for collection. Studies are underway to determine the effects this harvesting has on the trees themselves and the quality of the syrup produced. Our farm is committed to remaining old school; we’ll continue to produce our maple syrup with trees found in natural forests, and use production and filtration methods that do not use chemicals. Our family believes that staying small-scale and producing syrup the old-fashioned way is better for the trees, the environment, and ultimately produces a better product. When explaining how we make our management decisions, I like to quote Dr. Seuss from The Lorax: “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”


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Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie Looking for a little inspiration for your holiday baking? Heirloom Market at Comstock Ferre Owner Julia Koulouris and Pastry Chef Lauren Morgan shared a recipe – and their kitchen – with CT Food and Farm Magazine; this Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie presents a divine balance between the tartness of buttermilk and sour cream, the density of custard, the crunch of stone-ground cornmeal, and the iconic perfume of Connecticut maple syrup.

by Julia Koulouris

P hotography by Winter Caplanson


My husband Spiro

and I opened Heirloom Market at Comstock Ferre in January 2016 with the ultimate goal of showcasing local New England produce and product in our rustic café and natural foods market. We wanted to take the local food movement of “farm-to-table” one step further to “seed-to-plate.” It started by selling Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds; next, partnering with amazing local farmers who started those seeds to grow the gorgeous produce we sell in our market and use to make delicious food in our café. It is a beautiful, holistic circle. The farms with which we work – among them Sub Edge Farm in Farmington, Urth Farms in New Britain, and Colgan Farm in Windsor – use sustainable, organic farming practices. It only makes sense for us to bake with the same approach, using products like Organic Maple Syrup from Lyme’s Fat Stone Farm.

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Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie

We use a recipe from one of Lauren’s all-time favorite cookbooks – The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily and Melissa Elsen. When we bake with maple syrup, we always use the darkest grade possible - you get much more depth of flavor and its nuances seem to shine through a bit more in baking.

Crust

Cornmeal Crust for a 9” single-crust pie, partially prebaked

Makes one 9-inch pie / Serves 8 to 10 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour ¼ cup. stone-ground cornmeal ½ tsp. kosher salt 1½ tsp. granulated sugar ¼ lb. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces ½ cup cold water 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar ½ cup ice

1. Stir the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. 2. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a spatula. 3. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain. (A few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to over-blend. 4. Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. 5. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. 6. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. 7. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. 8. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour (preferably overnight) to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for three days or frozen for one month. cont’d

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Partial Prebaking

1. Once dough has been chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, roll out and shape into a 9” pie plate. Use a fork to prick all over the bottom and sides – 15 to 20 times. Place the crust in the freezer. Position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack, and preheat the oven to 425°F. 2. When the crust is frozen solid (about 10 minutes), line it tightly with a piece or two of aluminum foil. Make sure the edges are completely covered and there are no gaps between the foil and the crust. 3. Pour pie weights or beans into the pan and spread them so they are concentrated more around the edge of the shell than in the center. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until crimped edges are set, but not browned. 4. Remove the pan and the baking sheet from the oven, lift out the foil and pie weights, and let the crust cool for one minute. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of egg white glaze (one egg white whisked with 1 tsp. of water) to moisture-proof the crust. Return the pan, on the baking sheet, to the oven’s middle rack and continue baking for three more minutes. Remove and cool completely before filling.

Filling 1

Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. stone-ground white cornmeal ¼ cup packed light brown sugar ½ tsp. kosher salt 5

Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract) 1 cup sour cream 3 large eggs 1 large egg yolk ¾ cup maple syrup (preferably the darkest grade possible) 1 cup buttermilk

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. 2. Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. 3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. 4. Add the vanilla paste (or vanilla extract) and the sour cream and stir until smooth. 5. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, blending well after each addition. 6. Add the maple syrup and buttermilk and mix until smooth. 7. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, or strain it into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell. 8. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, rotating 180° when the edges start to set (30 to 35 minutes through baking). 9. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid, but still quite wobbly. 10. Be careful not to overbake or the custard can separate; the filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven. 11. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack for two to three hours. 12. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cool. 13. The pie will keep refrigerated for two days or at room temperature for one day.

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“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.” -Thomas Keller

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Winter Caplanson photo with Mercado ctfoodandfarm.com

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Hilary Adorno resides in Morris, and is constantly reminded why Northwest Connecticut is an amazing compendium of art, nature, history, and community. In her spare time, she designs hand-woven jewelry, researches aviation disasters, and watches true crime documentaries.

WINTER Caplanson is our editor in chief, is a commercial photographer for the agricultural, food and beverage, handcraft, and tourism industries. She has recently fallen in love with taking chef portraits, vintage wide-angle lenses, and her new yellow lab puppy, Sailor.

Kelley Citroni is the editor of and contributing author to CT Food and Farm Magazine; she is a full-time grantwriter, funding foreign and domestic initiatives in support of veterans’ causes, sustainable buildings, and STEM education.

Charlie Colasurdo is a 16-year old photographer and student. When the temps dip, he can be found with his head over a bowl of steaming pho or taking photographs of the Winter Farmers’ Market in the sun-warmed greenhouse at Gilbertie’s Herb Farms in Westport.

Winter Caplanson at River Plain Dairy

Margit Fish is a natural-light wedding and portrait photographer based out of Eastern Connecticut, and co-owns of Full of Whimsy Design and Photography

Laura Graham is a writer, illustrator, and owner of Drink With Food, a sales and marketing company for small suppliers in the food and alcohol industry. She lives part time in Italy and part time in Connecticut. Julia and Spiro Koulouris are the husband-and-wife team that own and run Heirloom Market at Comstock Ferre. Beginning in Hartford-area restaurants, their love of food and hospitality has led them to Old Wethersfield, where they are focused on creating a local “seed to plate” experience in the historic, cozy walls of the Comstock Ferre building. Lynz Moran is an eternal student of life who’s currently studying candlemaking, fiddle playing, photography, family life, communication, and meditation. Lisa Nichols is a designer and photographer who gets to design this amazing publication. Through her freelance business Right Click Photography & Design, she works with clients such as the New Haven Downtown District. She drinks way too much coffee and is a huge comedy nerd.


Maya Oren is the cinematic-short-films-maker behind MOJALVO, a brand specializing in telling the stories of people, places, and things. When she is not making films (which is not often), she can be found doing yoga, exploring farms, making a paleo meal, or strumming guitar. She enjoys writing about navigating love, as well as receiving and sending tangible letters. Rita Rivera is a graphic designer and cupcake fanatic based New London, Connecticut. She’s very happy that Barry Gibb made it to 2017. Rich Rochlin makes his living sorting out legal problems for his clients in courtrooms throughout the State. He makes his home In Farmington with his wife, Sarah, and their two kids, Rex and Ruby. Rich believes that the shovel was a groundbreaking invention. Anna Sawin’s photography features sun-splashed weddings and families in the warmer months of the year, so she relishes the opportunity to photograph less traditional subjects (cows) when winter comes, as featured in this issue’s piece on Terra Firma Farm’s Kickstarter Creamery.

Matt Skobrak is a chef-turned-farmer; he and his partner Callah Racine own and operate The Tiny Acre Farm, a one acre bio-intensive market garden in Woodstock, with the mission of producing the highest quality specialty produce for chefs throughout Connecticut and Boston. AMY SMITH spends the majority of her hours during the winter performing chemistry in the sugar-house, and turning tree water into syrup-y goodness. Follow the Farm’s Facebook page for upcoming events!

Emily Woodward Tracy is rarely let out of the kitchen at Get Baked. When she is let out for good behavior, she can be found rocking her nine-month-old daughter to sleep or attempting to finish a knitting project. Amy White is a teacher by day and a would-be chef by night; she admits having a not-soslight obsession with food. When not shopping for, making, or eating it, she can often be found reading or writing about it. You can follow her foodie adventures on her blog, A Couple in the Kitchen.

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Connecticut Food & Farm, Winter 2017, Volume 7