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挀漀瘀攀爀 瀀栀漀琀漀㨀 䬀椀渀最搀漀洀 䬀椀搀猀 䘀愀爀洀 戀礀 䰀椀猀愀 一椀挀栀漀氀猀 挀漀瘀攀爀 瀀栀漀琀漀㨀 刀攀搀 ㌀㘀 戀礀 䨀愀欀攀 匀渀礀搀攀爀

洀愀欀攀 礀漀甀爀 最爀攀攀渀猀 挀漀洀攀 琀爀甀攀 CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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CAP

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PTURE CREATIVE

CONNECTICUT FOOD AND FARM

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRIES.

CTFOODANDFARM.COM CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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in this issue

ALEXANDER FOX

FRESH WRAPS

JENNIFER LAVOIE

ABUZZ WITH LIFE

SARAH LEFRANCOIS & CHRISTOPHER ANDREW

SHOP THE DOCK

ANNA SAWIN

LOBSTER ROLLS WITH AN OCEAN VIEW

REBECCA HANSEN

WINETAILS BY THE WATER

NANCY HANKINS

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AN ALL-STAR SUMMER CHEESE

RICOTTA:

6 16 36 44 58 70 8


SUMMER 2018 | VOLUME 13

SMITH-WORTHINGTON SADDLERY COMPANY

PAULA DEUTZ

CARLOS PEREZ

COOKING WITH RICOTTA

ASK A CHEF:

HILARY ADORNO

RURAL RETREAT

CALLAH RACINE

FLOWER POWER

RACHEL MARTIN

PERFECTION OF THE PICKLE

AMY HOLOMAKOFF

SUMMER POSITIVI-TEA

WINTER CAPLANSON

BREAKING BREAD WITH BENN GRIM

LISTEN IF YOU DARE:

80 94 110 124 144 162 178

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Winetails by BY NANCY HANKINS

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JAKE S


y the Water

SNYDER, RED SKIES PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOS

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RED 36

is more than a restaurant; it’s a dynamic and lively oasis nestled between a train bridge and drawbridge on the Mystic River. Part of its inherent charm is the challenge of finding this hidden gem, tucked in the back of a boatyard—but the charm doesn’t stop there, as evidenced by the restaurant’s eclectic menu and assortment of tantalizing winetails. While the dishes’ main ingredients are clearly defined by what is grown, raised, fished, or farmed in this area, the spices reflect a fusion of influences from around the world, creating a cuisine that modern palates crave. The briny rush from soy, the smoky waft of chipotle, and the slow burn of freshly pressed

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BAR MANAGER

ginger are just a few of the flavors you’ll experience. After a few seasonal transformations, Red 36 owner Angela Kanabis decided to revitalize the wine list to reflect the original Americana style. Bar manager Tom Meekin put together an impressive balance of west and east coast wines to compliment the restaurant’s savory fare. He also used wines from neighboring

vineyards to create several winetails—cocktails made with wine—and his creativity allowed him to transcend the traditional, cheapyet-cheerful sangrias and spritzers. “In order to showcase native wines,” he said, “the approach must be more sophisticated than camouflaging flavors with strong brandy, sugar, and fruit.” Tom shared some recipes for delicious and refreshing winetails.

TOM MEEKIN USED WINES FROM NEIGHBORING VINEYARDS TO CREATE SEVERAL WINETAILS— COCKTAILS MADE WITH WINE—AND HIS CREATIVITY ALLOWED HIM TO TRANSCEND THE TRADITIONAL, CHEAP-YETCHEERFUL SANGRIAS AND SPRITZERS...

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“Part of its inherent charm is the challenge of finding this hidden gem, tucked in the back of a boatyard...” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Green Can The Green Can, which he named after a buoy marker, is made with Saltwater Farm Unoaked Chardonnay. Aged in stainless steel tanks, this wine reflects the “somewhereness” of the grapes grown in Stonington’s mineral-rich soil. There is a vibrancy and clarity to this crisp, stony, and zesty wine that is surprising to chardonnay. It only makes sense to muddle Granny Smith apples and add a hint of lemon and ginger! • • • •

2 Granny Smith apple wedges muddled with 3-4 basil leaves ¾ ounce green-apple-infused Cocchi Americano 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and ginger syrup Splash of Saltwater Farm Unoaked Chardonnay

Add ice and shake. Double strain over fresh ice and fill with wine.

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Red Nun Then there’s the Red Nun, also named after a buoy marker. This wintetail includes Saltwater Farm Rosé, which has a breezy demeanor that is a masterful match for many cocktail possibilities. This pale pink, timelessly romantic wine has hints of wild strawberries, watermelon rind, and nasturtium, finishing with a hint of salt air on the nose and palate. Cucumber, strawberry, and rhubarb are a marker of the onset of summer and pair well with this perfect patio wine. • Muddle 1 strawberry with 2 cucumber wheels. • 1 teaspoon Lemon zest/ginger syrup • ¾ ounce rhubarb-infused Aperol • ¾ ounce Wolffer Estate Pink Gin • Splash of Saltwater Farm Rosé Add ice and shake. Double strain over fresh ice and top with wine

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Summer Plum Finally, here’s a recipe for Summer Plum, which uses the highly fragrant Jonathan Edwards Gewürztraminer. Although this wine is aromatic, it is still crisp, lucent, and extremely refreshing. In addition to its soft scent of lychee (a fragrant combination of exotic fruit and flower) and the slight tang of lemon peel, marinated plum and white rum pull this wine-tail together and round it off at the same time, giving it a harmonious power of attraction.

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• 1 ounce plum and thyme infused Real McCoy 3-year White Rum • 1 teaspoon lemon zest and ginger syrup • Splash of Jonathan Edwards Gewürztraminer Add ice and shake. Double strain over fresh ice and top with wine.


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LO STE

R O L 16

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OB ER

L L S

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THE RESTAURANT AT ROWAYTON SEAFOOD. JOHN SHYLOSKI PHOTO.

BY REBECCA HANSEN. PHOTOS BY WINTER CAPLANSON, SASHA DALE, LISA NICHOLS, ANNA SAWIN, JOHN SHYLOSKI, AND JAKE SNYDER.

with an Ocean View

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WE DON’T J U D G E HOW YOU WANT YOU TO EAT IT. 18

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ANNA SAWIN PHOTO

tFIX ITu WE JUST


ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.

CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK. SASHA DALE PHOTO. LOBSTER SHACK. LISA NICHOLS PHOTO.

ROWAYTON SEAFOOD MARKET. JOHN SHYLOSKI PHOTO.

FORD’S LOBSTER. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO. KNAPPS LANDING. JOHN SHYLOSKI PHOTO. ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.

Doused in butter. Smothered in mayo. Cold or hot. However you fancy your lobster roll, Connecticut has a spot for you. While

Connecticut-style means your roll is warm and buttery, we don’t judge how you fix it; we just want you to eat it. Thankfully, our small state has plenty of options when it comes to finding your perfect roll. There are places to go casual and BYOB, to get fancy and use a real fork, and everything in between. We’ve picked 17 spots throughout the state that serve up their lobster rolls with an ocean view, making for perfect summer snacking on the water. A word to roll lovers everywhere: this is by no means an exhaustive list. If we’ve forgotten your favorite, snap a pic and share it with us on Instagram at @connfoodandfarmmagazine. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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TASTY CATCHES ALL SUMMER LONG

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Cash Only

LOBSTER SHACK

7 Indian Neck Ave., Branford (in the Birbarie Marina) Summer hours: Thursday-Sunday, 11:30-6. Made from a modified truck, Lobster Shack serves up tasty catches all summer long. Step off your boat and sit under one of their red umbrellas.

STOWE’S SEAFOOD

LOBSTER SHACK. LISA NICHOLS PHOTOS.

347 Beach St., West Haven Summer hours: Every day, 10-7. Stowe’s is situated directly across from the beach. You can nab one of their few tables and enjoy their pirate-inspired decor or cross the street and sit in the sand.

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LOBSTER LANDING. WINTER CAPLANSON. LOBSTER LANDING. WINTER CAPLANSON. CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK. SASHA DALE PHOTO. CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK. SASHA DALE PHOTO.

CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK. SASHA DALE PHOTO.

BYOB

BRING YOUR OWN BUOY BEER

LOBSTER LANDING

152 Commerce St., Clinton Summer hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11-6. This iconic (and Instagram favorite) lobster shack serves their rolls warm and in butter. No frills, all love.

CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK

80 Hamilton St., New London Summer hours: Every day, 11-7. Order at the window, eat at the picnic tables. Perfect for a post-swim meal. Captain Scott’s lets you choose how you want your roll: cold with mayo or hot with butter. They offer a new small size for tinier tummies.

GUILFORD LOBSTER POUND

505A Whitfield St., Guilford Summer hours: WednesdayThursday, noon-5; Friday, noon-6; Saturday-Sunday, noon-7. Since 1991, Captain Bart Mansi has been selling his fresh catches at the Lobster Pound. Tucked among fishing boats and yachts, this gem is a no-frills institution that is ready to give you the good (lobster) stuff.

NO FRILLS,

ALL LOVE. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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OUR SMALL STATE HA WHEN IT COMES TO FINDING

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AS PLENTY OF OPTIONS YOUR

PERFECT ROLL.

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ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH.

FORD’S LOBSTER

15 Riverview Ave., Noank Summer hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:30-9.; Sunday, 10-9. Eat out on the patio with ocean views all around. While lobster rolls aren’t their only trick (check out their amazing risotto or Sunday brunch), the roll is Ford’s pride and joy. Deluxe your order by going with the Lobster Bomb, a mega-sized roll.

ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH.

ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH

117 Pearl St., Noank Summer hours: Every day, 11:30-9. Some say you’re loyal either to Abbott’s or to Ford’s, but why choose? Abbott’s is the stuff of legends, from its glorious rolls to its homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. Right on the water, it’s the perfect spot to spend the day. Patrons are even known to bring their own tablecloths and crystal to make the experience extra fancy.

SKIPPER’S SEAFOOD

167 Main St., Niantic Summer hours: Every day, 10-9. This is a classic New England ocean-view seafood spot, across from the water but with views from its sunny outdoor seating. Order your roll with a root beer float chaser, then head down the street to the Book Barn to scavenge for a read.

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272 Pequot Ave., New London Summer hours: Every day, 11-7:30. Soaking in the sun all day has its perks, like creating the perfect excuse to pair your lobster roll with some soft-serve ice cream, and Fred’s has you covered. The rolls here come salad-style: cold with mayo.

FORD’S LOBSTER. ANNA SAWIN PHOTOS.

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FORD’S LOBSTER.

FRED’S SHANTY


YES,

YOU DID SEE THIS IN

MYSTIC PIZZA.

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....RESERVATIONS ARE DEFINITELY

RECOMMENDED...

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Casual Dining

KNAPPS LANDING

520 Sniffens Lane, Stratford Summer hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30-9; Friday, 11:30-9:30; Saturday, 12-9:30; Sunday, 12-8. Knapps is an institution that can’t be missed. Located where the Housatonic River meets Long Island Sound, its scenic views are some of the best you’ll find on the coast. The restaurant’s lobster roll is strictly Connecticut-style and reservations are definitely recommended on weekends.

SANDPIPER RESTAURANT

161 Cosey Beach Ave., East Haven Summer hours: Monday-Thursday, 11-8:30; Friday-Saturday, 11-9; Sunday, 11-8. This unassuming shoreline treasure is tucked away in a residential neighborhood across the road from the beach. Rolls are served warm and buttery, and you can grab a spot on the outside patio to watch the waves.

THE DOCK RESTAURANT

9 First St., Waterford This seasonal spot is a great place to sip a beer and enjoy a roll. Generally quiet, you can relax after a long day at the beach or class it up a bit with selections from their downstairs raw bar.

SUNSET GRILLE

52 Calf Pasture Beach Road, Norwalk Summer hours: Open for lunch every day, 11:45-3. Dinner: WednesdayThursday, 4:30-9:30; Friday-Sunday, 4:30-10. Overlooking Calf Pasture Beach and tucked behind Norwalk’s busy SoNo neighborhood, Sunset Grille is a local staple. Their rolls come hot or cold and pair perfectly with a sunset on the Sound.

KNAPPS LANDING. JOHN SHYLOSKI PHOTOS.

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Lobsters & Nightlife LENNY’S ON THE BEACH 88 Hartford Ave., Old Lyme Summer hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Lenny’s only qualifies as a casual spot because they offer beer, but this on-the-sand restaurant has full-on seafood shack charm with a side of all-night party. Expect plastic cups and star-quality lobster rolls. Note for families: this place is known to get a little loud as night creeps in (see: lobster plus beer).

THE CRAB SHELL

46 Southfield Ave., Stamford Summer hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:30-9; Friday-Saturday, 11:30-9:30; Limited menu every day, 3:30-5. Like migratory birds, the young professionals of Fairfield County head to the Crab Shell after work when the weather starts to warm. The restaurant and Crab Shack (its dockside bar/patio) become one of the most popular places in town. You can find live music almost every night of the week.

RED 36

2 Washington St., Mystic Summer hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30-9; Friday-Saturday, 11:3010; Sunday, 11:30-9. Located in downtown Mystic, this modern gem offers up stunning scenery and smashing cocktails. Its roll can be ordered buttered or tossed in homemade aioli. Pair it with a Five-Spice Dark ’n’ Stormy cocktail for something a little extra. RED 36. JAKE SNYDER PHOTOS.

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THE RESTAURANT AT ROWAYTON SEAFOOD.

THE RESTAURANT AT ROWAYTON SEAFOOD.

BONUS:

The Classy Lobster

THE RESTAURANT AT ROWAYTON SEAFOOD

89 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton Summer hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:30-9; Friday-Saturday, 11:30-10. The posh waterside village of Rowayton comes alive in summer. Manhattanites head to their beach homes while locals, dormant in the winter, head outside to enjoy the water, watch Shakespeare on the Sound, or shop at the Rowayton Farmers Market. The restaurant is a local staple with a long tradition of feeding families of the Gold Coast. The rolls here are served salad-style and, like the restaurant and its patrons, are so prettily presented. If you’re not dressed for the occasion, tucked alongside the restaurant is the Fish Market, where you can grab fresh seafood and a lobster roll without pretense.

ROWAYTON SEAFOOD MARKET.

THE RESTAURANT AT ROWAYTON SEAFOOD.

JOHN SHYLOSKI PHOTOS.

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HOWEVER YOU

FANCY YOUR LOBSTER ROLL,

CONNECTICUT HAS A SPOT FOR YOU. CAPTAIN SCOTT’S LOBSTER DOCK. SASHA DALE PHOTO.

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SHO

THE D

Honor system seafood

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OP

DOCK

d shopping at Stonington’s Town Dock BY ANNA SAWIN

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It’s 7:17 a.m.

at the Stonington Town Dock, and Joe Bomster of Stonington Seafood Harvesters has already taught a master class on getting the perfect sear on one of the succulent scallops bearing his name.

“You want a heavy pan, cast iron is good, and a little olive oil. Make sure it’s smoking hot, and let the scallops sit there until they get that nice crust,” Joe said. He’s also taught his visitors why flash freezing is so important, and why his tasty scallops are known around the region by name. (Spoiler alert—no phosphates, no additives, no added

The only way they could be fresher is if I gave you one at sea right out

of the shell.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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If it isn’t the freshest fish you’ve ever had, Joe will che your purchase, but in decades of retail business,

CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2018

you


eerfully refund

u’d be the first.”

water; just fresh fish frozen to 20 degrees below zero moments after their catch.) “The only way they could be fresher is if I gave you one at sea right out of the shell,” Joe insisted. You’ll find Joe’s scallops in Stonington Borough, just a few blocks beyond the picturesque galleries and antique shops of Water Street. Head to the waterfront, home to one of the few commercial offshore fishing fleets in Connecticut and the retail operation for the Bomster family, an honor system freezer packed daily with Bomster catches. Make change in the cash box, write a check, or run your credit card at this selfservice window. The Bomsters specialize in scallops, seen far and wide on menus around the region and at Big Y grocery stores in New England. They also supply flounder, haddock, cod, monkfish, salmon, Stonington red shrimp, lobster bisque, and occasionally swordfish. They own two offshore fishing boats, each equipped with state-of-theart vacuum packers and rapid plate freezers, ensuring your seafood is at “Day 1” freshness when you purchase and defrost it. If it isn’t the freshest fish you’ve ever had, Joe will cheerfully refund your purchase, but in decades of retail business, you’d be the first.

STONINGTON SEAFOOD HARVESTERS 4 High Street, Stonington 860-535-8342 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week Self-serve cash, check, or credit card, but no American Express

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“LET’S GO SOMEWH WHERE THE STAR KISS THE OCEAN.” – JOHN LUBBOCK

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JAKE SNYDER, RED SKIES PHOTOGRAPHY

O HERE RS

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Abu 44

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uzz with Life: CONNECT WITH NATURE THROUGH BEEKEEPING

Chris t

op

w Sarah e r

d an

francois e L

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h er A n d


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Our farm is located on one of the seven hills of Franklin, and although it is no bigger than two acres, it is teeming with more than 250,000 tiny creatures making their home in five pine Langstroth hives. We began keeping Italian honeybees as a way to pollinate our home garden, but also to enjoy the spoils: honey from the wildflowers around our house. We started our home apiary with two hives, but as is the way with honeybees, we have since expanded to a total of 12 hives that we keep at three locations. Honeybees were brought to America by the colonists in the early 1600s. A hive of bees will include one queen, whose sole job is to leave the hive once, mate, and spend the rest of her life laying eggs (about 1,500 a day in the height of the summer!) to maintain the hive’s population. The queen is not always easy to spot, but she’ll be larger than the other bees and more golden in color. Most bees in a hive are female, and they have several duties: feeding and caring for the queen, feeding and caring for the larvae, cleaning the dead bees from the hive, maintaining the wax foundation of the frames, guarding the hive, packing pollen, ripening nectar, and, at the end of their lives, foraging for nectar, pollen, and propolis outside of the hive. Drone bees, the only males bees in the hive, have one job - to mate with new, unmated queens from other hives.

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Inspecting a beehive is a sensory experience, and I was overwhelmed the first time I looked into a hive. As the beekeeper slides the hive tool under the lid of the hive, you can hear the crack of the piney propolis used by the bees to seal the hive. The low hum of the bees at work fills your ears. There’s the sweet smell of nectar, and the smell of the hay burning in the smoker, used to mask the pheromones with which bees

“As the beekeeper slides the

hive tool under the lid of the hive, you can hear the crack of the piney propolis used by the bees to seal the hive.” communicate when there is danger nearby. If you can smell something similar to bananas or circus peanuts, watch out: the bees are signaling to each other that they need to attack. The sight of a frame full of bees in a large, moving mass is awesome to witness, and it’s a thrill to feel a weighty frame full of golden honey.

Beekeeping is like trying to solve a riddle that changes through the seasons. We inspect each hive every 10-14 days. We look to make sure that we have a queen, and if we don’t see her, we look for all stages of larvae: rice-shaped eggs, C-shaped larvae, and capped brood— larvae sealed behind a thin layer of wax. We make sure there is enough food being stored, that there are no signs of disease, and we decide whether we need to give the bees more space to lay eggs or store honey. Because the honeybees are not native to this continent, we treat them like tiny livestock and support

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CT FOOD & FARM / SUMMER 2018

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them with whatever they may need, including supplemental sugar syrup feed, since, this far north, there are times during the year when there is no food available. At certain points in the season, we also apply treatments to prevent disease or mite infestations. Our preferred treatments are naturally occurring organic acids that kill mites without harming the bees or leaving chemical residues. During the spring, we inspect for signs of swarming. When the hive builds up a large population, the queen’s pheromone doesn’t get evenly distributed to all of the worker bees, signaling that a new queen needs to be made. When there are too many queens in one hive, the bees gorge themselves on the honey stores

“...dandelions are one of

the first pollen sources for foraging honeybees...” and take off with the old queen. The swarm of bees will fly to a nearby location and send scout bees to look for a new home. Beekeepers can prevent losing a hive by creating a split so that the hive does not get too large. Though swarms are usually not aggressive, if you encounter one, call a local beekeeper. The swarm will likely not survive on its own through the winter, and a beekeeper can recover the swarm if it’s in a safe location and place it in a new hive box. While beekeeping is fascinating, the investment of time and money may not be for everyone. If you want to support honeybees, but perhaps don’t have the financial resources (startup kits run about $500) or adequate time, you can open your land to a beekeeper, perhaps working a trade for honey. We keep a few hives on a local farm, where they help native bees pollinate a squash crop. As a result, we have space for a few more hives and get more honey, and the farmer benefits from greater squash yields. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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You can also support honeybees by not treating your lawn. Although many consider dandelions and clover unsightly, dandelions are one of the first pollen sources for foraging honeybees and other pollinators. Dutch clover, the white flowers that pop up in grass, are a major nectar source for the bees in the spring. Goldenrod, which grows along the edges of fields, is a huge nectar source in the fall. You can also help the bees by waiting to mow your lawn, allowing the flowers to come up and for the bees to forage for just a little longer. Beekeeping has given us so much but, best of all, it’s given us a greater sense of awareness of what is happening in the fields around us. We’re aware of the bloom schedule in this region and we look for what food sources the bees are on: skunk cabbage, clover, asters, fruit trees, squashes, knotweed, joe-pye weed, and goldenrod. We harvest honey in the spring and in the fall, which allows us to yield two different types of honey because of the varying nectar sources. In the spring, the honey is a light golden yellow and has grassy, floral notes thanks to the Dutch

clover. In the fall, the honey is a dark brown or red and has citrusy, herbal notes because of the available goldenrod. There is so much to know about beekeeping, and it can take years to truly understand what you are seeing in the hive. The danger of losing a hive to a varroa mite infestation, starvation, or disease is strong, and we recommend that you take a class with a local beekeeper or association in order to learn as much as you can about what issues you may face while keeping bees. Classes usually run in January or February, and can be found through the Connecticut Beekeepers Association, the Eastern Connecticut Beekeepers Association, the Backyard Beekeepers Association, or through local apiaries: Stonewall Apiary in Sprague, Mike’s Bee Hives in Roxbury, Massaro Farm in Woodbridge, and Jones Apiary in Farmington. Sarah Lefrancois’ and Christopher Andrew’s Hop-Bee Honey is a small local apiary concentrating on honey bee health and creating quality honey products found in season at Connecticut farm shops and on Etsy.

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Fresh Wraps: A NATURAL AND ARTISTIC

ALTERNATIVE IN FOOD STORAGE

BY JENNIFER LAVOIE CARLA MCELROY PHOTOS CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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T

rying to lighten your footprint on the world? One of the best ways we can do so is by using less plastic. I pack my lunch in Mason jars, use reusable canvas bags at the grocery store, and keep refillable water bottles handy. When I learned about beeswax wraps as a natural and sustainable alternative to plastic wrap, I jumped at the opportunity to visit Rachel Rydingward, maker of Fresh Wraps by W&E Coastal, to experience her artistry and diligence in creating beeswax wraps. We usually think of honey as the most essential product from the beehive, but beeswax has been used for centuries in a variety of ways. In Europe, beeswax was used as a form

of currency, and the Chinese regarded beeswax as an effective medical ingredient. Beeswax has also been used in several ancient art forms – lifelike paintings by the Greeks and Romans, Indonesian and Chinese batik art, and the famous wax sculptures of Madame Tussauds. In early Greek poetry, bees were described as the “Birds of Muses,” bringing order with their hives and their art. I’d like to think that Rachel is like the bee, industrious and dedicated in producing a natural, beautiful product. When Rachel’s daughter, Emma, was born, Rachel wanted to find a way to earn an income while still having time with her young daughter. That’s when she began making wraps, first as a naptime project while Emma slept, and then for the purpose of selling them in markets around West Hartford, including the West End Farmers’ Market. The past year has been very exciting for Rachel; her wraps are for sale on Etsy and in four Connecticut stores: Cookshop Plus in West Hartford, Featherly Ever After in North Branford, The Smithy Store in New Preston, and Soulbury in Woodbury. Rachel uses only organic products in her beeswax wraps. The colorful cotton fabric is brushed with warm, yellow beeswax, which has been touched with jojoba oil to make the wax more malleable. The beeswax and jojoba have natural antibacterial and antifungal qualities that help to keep it clean and fresh.

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Excluding raw meat, the wraps can be used for just about anything for which you would normally use plastic wrap or foil. The wraps are washable, reusable, and will last about a year depending on how often you use and care for them. The wraps should only be washed with cool water (warm water will melt them), and if messy, they can be washed with a droplet of mild alcohol-free soap (like Mrs. Meyers). They can also

"The beeswax and jojoba have natural antibacterial and antifungal qualities that help to keep it clean and fresh." sometimes be revived by “re-waxing.” To do this, place the wraps on parchment paper on a cookie tray and bake at 190 degrees for about 5 minutes in order to re-coat the wrap. Pin the wraps on a line to dry and they will harden and dry quickly. I watched Rachel’s process in her small, cozy kitchen. The wax smelled heavenly as she brushed it on the colorful, patterned fabric, and I immediately understood how it could be very therapeutic. The beeswax wrap process is fairly straightforward. First, Rachel lays out fabric she has pre-cut, then runs a lint roller brush along it to get any last stray bits of lint. Next, she heats up the beeswax and

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"The wraps are washable, reusable, and will last about a year depending on how often you use and care for them."

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"The beeswax and jojoba have natural antibacterial and antifungal qualities thathelp to keep it clean and fresh."

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jojoba oil in a small crockpot. The fabric is put on a designated beeswax-only cookie sheet and she uses a natural hair paintbrush to lightly coat the wax over the fabric. The wrap is placed in a 190-degree oven, heated for about 5 minutes, and hung on a drying rack. The wraps have a faint scent of honey and the fabric designs are super cute (the spring

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version of fuzzy aliens is so charming). The wraps are wonderful for keeping avocados fresh and warding off the dreaded grey bloom. They can also be shaped over a bowl of leftovers by pinching with your fingers or hugging with your hands, as the warmth of your skin adheres the wrap to the bowl. Perhaps most fun of all, they can be used for wrapping up fruit in sealable pouches, like carnival-style popcorn pouches for kids’


lunches. Emma tells her mom that it’s like opening a present. I bought a variety package of Fresh Wraps for myself at Cookshop Plus and I love them. I recently learned how to make my own bread (baguettes and naan seem to be my family’s favorite) and I find that the beeswax wraps are perfect for oddly shaped bread because it keeps the bread fresh and the crusts crisp. I have also found that heavily scented

foods, like onions and some cheeses, do not transfer their smell to the beeswax. The only drawback that I’ve found is sometimes I’m not sure what I’ve wrapped up because the wraps are not transparent, but that’s a very small inconvenience and, as Emma said, it’s like opening a present!

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"The beeswax smelled

heavenly

as she brushed it

on the colorful, patterned fabric." CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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a t t o iR c PHOTO BY WINTER CAPLANSON 70

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CH

R

AR SUM T S L L ME A AN

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by ALEXANDER FOX

CHRISTOPHER FOX & WINTER CAPLANSON

photos

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If you’re only using ricotta

to fill your lasagnas or stuff your shells, you’re missing out on much of what this refreshing summer cheese has to offer. It’s delicate in taste and texture, unlike aged cheeses that tend to be more aromatic and dense, so another scoop is never too much. Ricotta is easy to use, consume, and make—maybe one of the easiest cheeses of all!

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER FOX

“The first thing I look for is fat content,” said Chef Joel Gargano of Grano Arso in Chester. “Retail versions are usually skim milk, which means dryer curds, which to me is not very appealing. In most kitchens, we aren’t afraid of whole milk. I go half whole milk and half cream.” Joel brings the mixture to a simmer without scorching it and then he acidifies it. “We call that ‘splitting the milk’—you can do it with lemon juice or what we use, buttermilk,” he said. “Buttermilk is already soured due to the fermentation that occurs when the culture is added to make it. Buttermilk provides just the right amount of acidity that we prefer. Splitting takes about 20 minutes, during which we chill the mix and then strain it through cheesecloth and let sit overnight.”

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“WHEN I WENT TO NEW YORK CITY AND WORKED IN THE LARGEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT I HAVE EVER WORKED, THE FRESH CHEESE OF CHOICE WAS CALABRO.

The name goes pretty far.” - CHEF JOEL GARGANO

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Joel said Grano Arso uses Calabro, a brand of ricotta you can find at Stop & Shop. If you are looking to shop local, you cannot do much better than visiting Calabro’s market, located at the site of its East Haven manufacturing plant. The milk used to produce their handmade cheese comes from dairy farms located within 100 miles of the plant; about 90 percent comes from Connecticut farms. Calabro has been family owned and operated since it was founded in 1953 by Joseph Calabro. At first, the company was a cheese distribution business that Joseph ran with his father, Salvatore, out of the back of the family home in Stratford. It wasn’t until PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER FOX

1960 that Joseph entered the cheese production industry following a merger with another New Haven cheese company. Production was moved to Vermont but returned to Connecticut in 1980, making its home in the newly created East Haven Commercial Park. The company has won awards for its products, CEO Frank Angeloni (Joseph Calabro’s nephew) said, but ultimately, Calabro has to let the cheese do the talking. “We’ve won gold awards over the last 15 years with everything from the fresh mozzarella to the buffalo to the burrata, we got our share,” he said. “You say you won the gold, the other

“IF A COMPANY CAME IN HERE TODAY AND BOUGHT US OUT, ALL OF A SUDDEN I WOULD HAVE A TON OF MONEY BUT I DON’T KNOW IF I WOULD BE

happy ” .

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“WHEREVER THE MARKET TAKES CALABRO, IT’LL REMAIN IN THE

family.

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guy says he won the gold—it doesn’t mean a thing. What matters is, does it taste like it won the gold?” Awards or no awards, Joel Gargano says he’s “always been a big fan.” “When I went to New York City

and worked in the largest Italian restaurant I have ever worked, the fresh cheese of choice was Calabro,” Joel said. “The name goes pretty far.” Joel’s brother, Patrick Gargano Jr. of Cheri’s Bakery in Branford, said he’s been using Calabro for 19 years.


PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER FOX

“They have always been consistent products, their products have never changed,” he said. “They have always been extremely high quality.” To appeal to more modern sensibilities, the company has brought back an

organic line of products, as well as introducing more exotic cheeses. “The younger generation was looking for not only local but also organic,” Frank said, adding that he’s expanding that line to include fresh mozzarella,

Gouda, cheddar, and parmesan. Wherever the market takes Calabro, Frank said it’ll remain in the family. “If a company came in here today and bought us out, all of a sudden I would

have a ton of money but I don’t know if I would be happy, I don’t know what I would do,” he said. “I would like to enjoy my days in my garden, be outside working, putzing around with my hands, but nothing beats coming around here and just making cheese.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Ask a Chef: Coo 80

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oking with Ricotta recipes

Carlos Perez Winter Caplanson

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Executive Chef Carlos Perez of 4 Eat & Drink in Farmington calls Calabro

ricotta cheese “hands down the best on the market.� He especially favors the organic, hand-dipped ricotta for its artisanal flavor and texture. Chef Perez shares four of his favorite ricotta recipes:

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Caramelized Blueberries Lemon Ricotta Crostini WITH

INGREDIENTS  2 cups fresh blueberries  Juice from 1 large lemon  2 tablespoons granulated sugar  1 cup Calabro Fresh Ricotta  Zest of 1 lemon  1 French baguette, thinly sliced, toasted  Wildflower honey for drizzling  Chocolate mint, optional 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss blueberries with the granulated sugar and half of the lemon juice. Place on baking sheet and roast for about 6-7 minutes or until blueberries are soft. Cool to room temperature. 2. Meanwhile, combine Calabro Fresh Ricotta, lemon zest, and remaining lemon juice in a bowl. Spread on top of the toasted baguette slices. Place caramelized blueberries on top of the ricotta, and using a spoon, drizzle over the Wildflower honey. If desired, top with torn chocolate mint.

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Fresh Ricotta Ravioli

WITH SAN MARZANO TOMATO SAUCE & BASIL

INGREDIENTS  8 sheets fresh pasta  32 ounces fresh ricotta  2 cups grated Grana Padano cheese  2 eggs  Salt and pepper to taste  28 ounces can San Marzano tomatoes (whole, peeled)  5 cloves garlic, smashed  2 tablespoons olive oil 1. Mix together fresh ricotta, Grana Padano, and 1 egg. Season with salt and pepper. 2. Mix remaining egg with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Lay down one pasta sheet, drop dollops of ricotta mixture on top. Brush around ricotta mixture with egg yolk mixture, and lay a second pasta sheet on top. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out raviolis. 3. Drop raviolis into pot of boiling water and cook until they begin to float and are tender. 4. Meanwhile, sauté garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add canned tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree with a blender, or immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 5. Toss ravioli in sauce. Top with fresh basil and serve. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Calabro Ricotta Impastata Cannoli

WITH ORANGE & DARK CHOCOLATE

INGREDIENTS  6 cannoli shells  2 cups Calabros Ricotta Impastata  3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided  1 teaspoon orange zest  4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 1. Mix together ricotta, 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, and dark chocolate in a bowl. 2. Using a piping bag, pipe mixture into the cannoli shells. Dust with remaining confectioners’ sugar and serve.

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Whole Wheat Walnut Raisin Bread WITH CALABRO RICOTTA & ORANGE HONEY

INGREDIENTS  1 1/4 cups warm water  2 tablespoons olive oil  2 cups whole wheat flour  1 1/2 cups bread flour  1/4 cup brown sugar  1/2 tablespoon kosher salt  1 tablespoon cinnamon  1 tablespoon instant yeast  1 cup raisins  1/2 cup crushed walnuts  Calabro Ricotta  1/4 cup honey, mixed with 1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Combine flours, sugar, cinnamon, and yeast in a bowl. Mix in warm water and olive oil until it begins to form a dough. Add salt, raisins, and walnuts. Knead on a table until fully combined, using additional flour if dough starts to stick. 3. Place into oiled bowl, and proof covered with plastic wrap for one hour or until doubled in size. 4. Remove from bowl, punch dough down, and reform into a round loaf. Placed on greased cookie sheet, proof once more until doubled in size and bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. 5. Let cool, then slice and top with Calabro Ricotta and orange zest infused honey.

Executive Chef Carlos Perez has an extensive range in multiple cuisines and techniques. Studying under some of Manhattan’s top chefs and working at numerous restaurants, including Mesa Bar and Grille, he first started off as a pastry chef, opening La Palette Bakery in Watertown in 2006. Perez went on to expand his repertoire as the executive chef of the high-end West Street Grill in Litchfield, before finding his home at 4 Eat & Drink in Farmington. 

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s .” i h t f o ired t t e g s mmer u s d e r hund a n i r neve d l u o c “I

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WINTER CAPLANSON

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Our Ro ots

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Naturally, I had to learn more, as this sounded simply fascinating.

My local farmers’ market

at South Farms has an exceptionally diverse selection of fresh produce and locally made goods. This is where I met a group participating in the Adamah Fellowship who were offering kimchi, pickles, green tomatoes, sauerkraut, other lacto-fermented goods (a pickling method that only uses salt), jams, and syrup. Their enthusiasm for their products was infectious, their positivity was radiant. While completing my pickle purchase (because there is nothing better than a fantastic pickle), I asked them where they were from, and they said in unison, “Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village.” They went on to explain that they were working on a 10-acre certified organic farm, planting, tending, harvesting, and preparing the products they were selling.

As the daughter of a Polish Jewish mother and a Sicilian Catholic father, I was exposed to fragments of both religions. Our religious observance represented a superficial intermingling: we would light a menorah beside a Christmas tree. I had matzo brei and potato latkes on Easter Sunday. My mother faithfully lit Yahrzeit candles to memorialize her parents’ deaths. As a child, I delighted in my equal opportunity position; I received Chanukah gelt AND Christmas presents. As an adult, I continue to observe a bit of both religions, but ultimately, I consider myself an agnostic Jew. I have always been curious about Judaism and find the faith’s traditions extremely authentic and meaningful, but WWII decimated nearly half of my family tree. Seeking information outside my family seems very intimidating— so who could I turn to and not humiliate myself with painfully obvious ignorance? I set up my meeting with the staff at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for this article. In preparation, I wore my Star of David necklace as a less-thanstealth gesture of camaraderie. I was immediately disarmed and greeted with warmth and genuine

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“...regardless of how deep your

devotion to Jewish observance, you will be supported and accommodated.”

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“... possibly one of the m

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hospitality by Jess Berlin, Director of Retreats. As I fumbled through pronunciations and asked for assistance, no one made me feel anything other than embraced. In fact, their modus operandi heavily focuses on pluralism, welcoming “participants of all religious backgrounds and none,” so regardless of how deep your devotion to Jewish observance, you will be supported and accommodated.

Connecticut—possibly one of the most pastoral and pin-drop-quiet places I’ve ever been. There are many buildings, including guest accommodations, staff housing, a barnyard of goats, a chicken coop, a synagogue, a dining hall, a bookstore, a library, two yurts, and the aforementioned 10-acre organic farm. There is even a pool and a lake to cool off during summer’s heat.

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center occupies 400 acres in the Berkshires of Northwest

Originally incorporated in 1893, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center was known as

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most pastoral and pin-drop-quiet places I’ve ever been.”.

the Jewish Working Girls Vacation Society. It served as a subsidized rural summer retreat for New York City garment workers who lived and worked in deplorable conditions. By 1917, they were assisting more than 800 women annually, providing much deserved rest and recuperation in the healthful out-of-doors. Jess told me some of their historic records charted how much weight their vacationing ladies gained, which was considered a great accomplishment given their poor condition upon arrival. In 1956, they adopted the name of Isabella Freedman, to honor

one of their philanthropic board members, and relocated to Falls Village. Since then, programs and events have multiplied and transformed to serve men, women and children. While on my tour of the property, we were joined by Rebecca Bloomfield (Director of Adamah), Janna Siller (the Adamah Farm Director), and Janna’s adorable daughter. They all function under the umbrella of Hazon. Confused yet? I was. Here is how I tried to make sense of it.

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Based in lower Manhattan, Hazon (“vision� in Hebrew) is the Jewish lab for sustainability - a nonprofit organization that promotes creating a healthy, sustainable Jewish community through food, the outdoors, and the environment. With 80 employees, Hazon operates five locations nationwide, including Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, which hosts from 5,000 to 6,000 people annually on its own. The retreat opportunities at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center seem countless. Their calendar is chock-full of diverse options, such as a two-week retreat for active adults 55 and older, a six-day emersion in Torah Yoga (combining the study of the Torah and the practice of Yoga), a weekend of Jewish song sharing and learning, and the annual New York Ride & Retreat, where bicyclists of all abilities are invited to ride between 30 to 160 miles over Labor Day weekend. Also hosted at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center is the Annual Food Conference (August 1-5, 2018). Now in its 13th year, upwards

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of 250 guests partake in over 90 workshops and hands-on demonstrations from chefs, farmers, activists, artists, and community leaders. This year Michael Twitty is a guest, just off his win of the 2018 James Beard Foundation’s Book of the Year Award for his book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South. It is worth mentioning that Michael is African American, Jewish, and gay, which I believe earns this organization super high marks for placing acceptance and inclusion over religious dogma.

“....fully immerse yourself in farm-to-table living, Jewish learning, community building, social justice, and spiritual practice.”

In addition to their yearround retreat schedule, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center is home to the previously mentioned Adamah Fellowship, which has been in existence since 2003. The fellowship currently offers three programs annually, inviting adults ages 20 to 35 to live on property for eight to 13 weeks in order to fully immerse themselves in farmto-table living, Jewish learning, community building, social justice, and spiritual practice. This program offers a sliding scale fee, so no one is turned away for lack of funds. Adamah is able to subsidize their rates thanks to generous benefactors and revenue earned by the products they grow and sell. In addition to lactofermented goods, they also offer a CSA in Falls Village (there are remaining shares for 2018) or in West Hartford (sold out for 2018), selling a variety of organic produce from lettuces, onions, herbs, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and many other items. This program is also offered on a sliding scale for people experiencing financial hardships. See their website for details.

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More than 30 organizations and business have sprung from Adamah Fellowship alumni, such as Shoresh and Linke Fligl. Shoresh (“root” in Hebrew) was started by alumna Risa Alyson Cooper, as well as alumna Sabrina Malach, their Director of Engagement. Shoresh serves the Greater Toronto Area and works to connect people, land, and Jewish tradition. They work with community organizations to promote nature-based Jewish education. They also grow organic produce, plant trees for reforesting, have a four-acre bee sanctuary, and provide training for at-risk community members, enabling them to be food secure and healthy. Linke Fligl (“left wing” in Yiddish) is a queer Jewish Chicken Farm in Millerton, New York, started by Adamah alumni Margot Seigle and Adin Zuckerman. They are of Ashkenazi descent (as am I), welcoming Jews of all lineages and traditions. In addition to raising heritage-breed chickens, they host land-based gatherings for Jewish holidays and have a homesteading garden where they host community work days and grow organic heirloom vegetables for preservation and programs.

All of the chickens at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center are heritage birds from Linke Fligl. Heritage breeding guarantees that the birds are naturally mating, have long productive outdoor lifespans, have slow natural growth rates, and that their genetic line can be traced back multiple generations, as documented and approved by the American Poultry Association (APA). As if that isn’t enough, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center also allows organizations and individuals the ability to rent the property for their own retreats, events, celebrations, and weddings. Packages can include a variety of options, such as renting buildings, rooms, and sleeping accommodations, as well as onsite catering with property-sourced produce, supplemented by locally sourced produce and proteins. They also serve up a tried-and-true list of local vendors to fulfill your every need. In fact, Jess is getting married on the property this September. At the end of my visit meaningful hugs were shared. Then Jess offered me the opportunity to be her guest at the retreat center for an upcoming event… and I feel this is just the open the door I need in order to embrace and learn more about my Jewish heritage, as well as learn how food and sustainability can play a role in my life and culture. I’m really looking forward to this experience.

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Recipe :

One of the recipes the Adamah fellows make during their weekly homesteading session (where they learn skills to preserve the harvest and process whatever is in abundance on the farm) is Freezer Jam. Freezer Jam requires less time, less sugar, and produces jam that tastes closer to the original fruit than cooked jam. Be aware, Freezer Jam is runnier than jam you’re used to and it needs to stay refrigerated. But you can keep it in any container you already own and don’t have to worry about the complexities of water bath canning used for cooked jam. STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM: • 1 pound fresh strawberries • 1 ¼ cups sugar • Juice of ½ lemon • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint Clean, slice, and mash strawberries. In a sauce pot, combine mashed strawberries, lemon juice, mint, and sugar on medium heat. Bring to a boil, and continue at a low boil, stirring often, until it thickens (about 30 minutes). Transfer jam to a clean container and let it cool before storing it in the fridge or freezer. Makes a great spread for challah toast!

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F LO WER p owe r a guide to plant-based body care BY CALLAH RACINE TERESA JOHNSON PHOTOS

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LATE

SPRING

IS MY

FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR.

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There is so much hope for the coming summer, so much sprouting, budding, and blooming. If you’re anything like me, you have dirt under your fingernails and cracked soles from prepping the garden. This year, while you’re planting veggies and culinary herbs to nourish you on the inside, why not plant a few medicinal herbs and flowers to nourish you on the outside as well? There are a number of common herbs, spices, oils, flowers, and

foraged plants that provide a wealth of skin-loving nutrients. Plant-based skin care and first aid remedies are not a new trend; Ancient Egyptians used olive oil and clay to cleanse their skin, and medieval Europeans used seeds and leaves mixed with honey to create facial masks. Modern over-the-counter body care products are loaded with artificial preservatives and dyes, synthetic fragrances, harmful chemicals, pesticides, and more. The difficulty of finding


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true all-natural body care products is what inspired my DIY approach of using organic oils, local beeswax, fair trade spices, and flowers and herbs from my own farm. When I know where all the ingredients are coming from, I know exactly what I’m putting on my skin. This is important because your skin absorbs more than 50 percent of what you put on it (possibly even as high as 100 percent, according to some studies). If you use only the highest quality ingredients, your skin will thank you tenfold—now and 20 years from now. Take a lesson from our ancestors and get back to the good stuff, plucked right from the ground or tree or bush. I could write a book about all the plants that contain healing and nourishing properties for our body, but for now, let’s focus on some of the more common garden, field, and forest plants.

Much like calendula and lavender, chamomile is calming, soothing, and antiinflammatory, so it’s great for all manners of healing. It also has a sweet and fruity scent; blend with lavender for a real aromatic treat and healing powerhouse. All of the garden mints are refreshing and cooling. They can help relieve muscle pain and stimulate blood flow, making them a prime choice for muscle rubs. In the winter, I love using mint in lip balms to cool and refresh dried, cracked skin. Being mucilaginous, comfrey is commonly used for helping to heal wounds, decrease dryness and flaking of skin, and prevent scars and treat existing ones. An oil infusion can work as an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and an aid in the healing of sprains and broken bones.

NOT ONLY IS FARM-FRESH SKIN CARE GOOD FOR YOU, BUT IT’S ALSO SUPER FUN TO MAKE AND WILL SAVE TONS OF MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. Lavender has antiseptic, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it beneficial for those with skin irritation, and it can even help speed the healing process of cuts, burns, and abrasions. Calendula is a personal favorite of mine. Extracts from the golden petals of this pot marigold can soothe skin, reduce inflammation, and heal burns, acne, and eczema. It turns oils into a beautiful golden orange color if left to infuse for a while, making sun-hued balms and salves.

You’ve probably thought of common plantain, which happily grows in most gardens, as “weeds,” but their leaves contain moisturizing mucilage. They’re also an effective skin healer and can be used in the same way as comfrey to help heal wounds and bruises. Fragrant and only slightly astringent, violet leaf and flower extract is juicy and moisturizing. Violets are perfect for dry skin, and also anti-inflammatory to help heal cuts and wounds.

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“Take a lesson from our ancestors and get good stuff, plucked right from the ground o

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t back to the or tree or bush.”

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Chickweed is another very common “weed.” A highly effective antiinflammatory, chickweed reduces redness, irritation, and can soothe chronic itching, making it my choice to use in treatments for poison ivy. Yarrow is my go-to for facial toners. Very astringent, yarrow helps remove oil from pores, improve uneven skin tone, and reduce redness. Rosemary’s potent antiseptic properties make it a superior disinfectant for the skin and hair. It promotes circulation when rubbed into the scalp, which can help reduce dandruff and help stimulate blood flow and hair growth. Although raw honey isn’t an herb, I would be remiss to not mention the benefits of using it on your skin and hair. The enzymes in the honey clarify skin and keep pores clear and clean. Honey can also prevent bacterial buildup that can lead to skin imbalances and breakouts. Its anti-inflammatory properties will calm redness and irritation. It’s also a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin and hair, making it ideal for face and hair masks. My favorite way to use most medicinal herbs is to dry them and make an oil infusion to then use in various recipes. It’s important to dry your herbs, as fresh herbs that still have some water content can significantly reduce the shelf life of your products and develop harmful molds

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and bacteria. Once your herbs are dry to the touch, add them to a Mason jar until half full and pour the carrier oil of your choice over the top to fill the jar. My favorite oils are sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and golden jojoba oil, but there are dozens to choose from, all with their own benefits. Let the jar sit in a cool, dark place for at least four weeks. Once your oil has been infusing for a month, strain it out (try using a coffee filter) and your oil is ready to use in all sorts of recipes! Not only is farm-fresh skin care good for you, but it’s also super fun to make and will save tons of money in the long run. You can grow many herbs and medicinal flowers yourself or source them from a local farm. Buy the other ingredients (oils, clays, plant-butters, essential oils, etc.) in bulk and have them on hand whenever you need them. My favorite websites for organic ingredients are bulkapothecary.com and mountainroseherbs.com. You can also purchase containers from these websites, but I love the old-fashioned Mason jar, especially for gifts. All-natural body care products should be used within six months, as they do not contain preservatives. Oils can go rancid if exposed to bacteria or left in a sunny or warm spot. If the products develop mold or an unpleasant odor, discard immediately. To extend the shelf life, store products in a cool, dark place (or even the fridge) and always apply with dry, clean hands.


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All-Purpose Salve I love this salve recipe because you can swap the herb infusion out for whatever you may need. I keep one with chamomile, calendula, lavender, and plantain in my bag and bathroom for any time I have dry hands or rashes, or any time I need a cuticle cream. I have another with peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus to use as an all-natural version of Vick’s VapoRub for when I’m feeling under the weather. My favorite warming muscle rub includes peppermint, comfrey, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. The options are endless. This is a must-have base recipe if you’re interested in trying your own herbal infusions. You can also double the beeswax and even add some shea butter to make a great lip balm.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: • 3 ounces infused oil of choice • 1 tablespoon coconut oil • 2 tablespoons beeswax 1. Combine ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal or glass pan sitting on top of a pot of water) over low heat. 2. Gently stir until completely melted. 3. Remove from heat once melted and add essential oils if desired. 4. Pour into a glass jar and let sit at room temperature until fully cooled and hardened. MAKES ROUGHLY 4 OUNCES.

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Honey & Herb Cleansing Face Scrub I use this face scrub every day. The herbs and flax meal gently exfoliate while the honey and jojoba oil pump my face full of moisture and cleanse my pores at the same time.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: • 1 cup raw honey (I prefer creamed honey from my local farmer’s market but regular is just fine) • 1 teaspoon calendula-infused golden jojoba oil • 1 teaspoon ground oatmeal • 1 teaspoon ground flax meal • 1 teaspoon ground lavender • 1 teaspoon ground sage • 1 teaspoon ground lemon balm 1. Combine ingredients into bowl and fold with rubber spatula until fully incorporated. 2. Fold in any essential oils you’d like, although the natural smell of the honey and herbs is divine. 3. Pour into glass jar. 4. To use, apply quarter-sized amount onto wet face and rub in circular motions before rinsing. Avoid getting water in the jar or using wet hands to apply the scrub, as water will diminish the shelf life. MAKES ROUGHLY 8 OUNCES. Callah Racine’s readymade farm grown herbal body care is available on Etsy at The Tiny Acre Botanicals.

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Perfection ¢of the¤

Pickle by Rachel Martin Carla McElroy photos

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There’s a side to The Essex in Centerbrook that most of us will never see—but we’ll surely taste it throughout the restaurant’s constantly changing menu of regional American dishes and drinks.

the magic happens, and more home cooks should take advantage of the seasonextending, flavor-expanding, and surprisingly simple art of pickling.

The Essex’s basement is bare and cool, and smells strongly sweet, acidic, and yeasty. Pantry shelves are lined with Mason jars filled with homemade relishes; vinegars in various shades of pink, fuchsia, and champagne; and pickles preserving the bounty of the season’s harvest. Masking tape and black marker divulge the contents, which include cranberry rosemary vinegar, sugar snap pea kimchi, and watermelon radish relish. Nearby, fresh kombucha tea ferments. Coowner and chef Colt Taylor says this is where much of

Pickling, the process of preserving the life of food through fermentation or by submersing it in a vinegar brine, has been used for centuries in culinary traditions throughout the world. Brine pickling is more familiar in America, where fruits or vegetables (most often cucumbers) are jarred in a hot solution of water, vinegar, sugar, herbs, and spices, and then left to cool. Fermented pickles, like those used in sauerkraut or the spicy Korean staple kimchi, do not use vinegar, but simply sea salt and the

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liquids released by the vegetables to create a brine and encourage the natural production of lactic acid. The flavor profile of brined pickles is often sharp and slightly sweet and can incorporate spices. Fermented pickles have a distinctively sour taste due to the presence of gut-healthy probiotics. When done correctly, pickling can preserve vegetables and fruits much longer than their usual

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lifespan using little more than a few glass jars and some simple ingredients. In New England, our exposure to pickles tends to be limited to the dill spear alongside a summer barbecue hot dog or shoreline lobster roll, or the bread and butter pickles topping our hamburgers. Chef Colt is on a mission to change that. He absorbed as much pickling

knowledge as he could while working in high-end kitchens in New York and Miami, where pickles are used often to add depth of flavor to more traditional cuisine. Colt uses a similar approach at The Essex. Here, pickles aren’t relegated to the role of edgeof-the-plate accompaniment, but rather used during cooking to elevate the complex flavor


“Pantry

shelves

are lined with Mason jars filled with homemade relishes; vinegars in various shades of pink, fuchsia, and champagne; and pickles preserving the bounty of the season’s harvest.

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home cooks should take advan “...More expanding, and surprisingly

simp

profile of a dish. A sweet and can cut through the fattiness o dish, and fermented vegetable add bite to homemade hotdog

“We do dishes where the basis vegetables,” Colt said. “Not ju and putting it on a plate. Trea raw, cook with it, and you can next level.”

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ple art of pickling.”

ntage of the season-extending, flavor-

acidic vinegar of a heavier meat es like sauerkraut gs.

s is fermented ust taking it out at as if it were n bring it to the

Pickling can be a delicious and inexpensive method for preserving an overabundance of regional summer produce for enjoyment throughout the year, and a great way to use those parts of the vegetable that might otherwise go to waste. The Essex’s creative and seasonal flavor combinations are often simply the result of a need to use whatever happens to be on hand, like a delivery of underripe Connecticut apples turned into apple pickles, relishes, and vinegars. In order to sustainably

extend the short ramp season, Colt created a ramp pesto with the greens of the plant and pickled the whites. Unanticipated extra pineapple was left to ferment for a few weeks for making pineapple beer. While the pickles, vinegars, relishes, and other preserved goodies that you’ll find throughout The Essex’s menu and for sale in their a la carte market are inventive, the basic process of pickling is one that any home cook or fermentation novice can easily master.

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Colt offered a few tips:

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1. Start with a basic formula, then tweak to your tastes. A basic brine is a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar. Master that preparation, and the sky is the limit! Add handfuls of your favorite herbs and whole spices (think mustard seeds, cloves, or star anise), or whole cloves of garlic and peppers for a kick. Try honey or maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar for another level of flavor. 2. Keep it simple. Those expensive fermentation systems and pickling products are unnecessary. All you need to start pickling is a stock of quality Mason jars and cheesecloth, a good quality vinegar, and kosher or sea salt. Local and/or organic produce is best—the chemicals sprayed on supermarket produce can inhibit the pickling process—but start with whatever is available and in season. 3. Be patient. Pickling is an inherently slow process, but that’s what makes each end result so unique. Experiment with different lengths of time to find that perfect pickle sweet spot. Recipes can be helpful, but at the end of the day, the best pickle is the one that you love to eat.

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“Keep it simple.”

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Chef Colt Taylor’s

Quick Pickles Pickled Carrot • 100 grams water • 150 grams apple cider vinegar • 100 grams mirin • 50 grams sliced ginger • 8 grams salt • Carrot, rotating mandoline Simmer water, mirin, vinegar, and ginger together with salt. Pour over sliced carrot while cold and let marinate 24 hours.

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The Essex

“At , pickles ar edge-of-the-plate accompan cooking to elevate the compl

Pickled Cucumber • 150 grams rice wine vinegar • 150 grams mirin • 8 grams salt • Cucumber Mix water, mirin, and vinegar together with salt. Pour over sliced cucumber and let marinate 24 hours. 138

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ren’t relegated to the role of niment, but rather used during lex flavor profile of a dish.”

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A sweet and acidic vinegar can cut thro

“

fattiness of a heavier meat dish, and fermented veget sauerkraut add bite to homemade hotdogs.�

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ough the tables like ”

Pickled Fennel • 100 grams water • 150 grams champagne vinegar • 60 grams sugar • 60 grams red onion sliced • 10 grams pink peppercorns • 8 grams salt • Fennel, cross cut thin sliced Simmer water, sugar, and vinegar together with salt. Pour over sliced fennel, onion, and peppercorns while hot and let marinate 24 hours.

The Essex 30 Main Street Centerbrook 860-237-4189 theessex.com

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Hot Dog! Happy Hour

Pickles are on full display at The Essex’s Retro Happy Hour from 4:30-6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, where homemade hot dogs made with local, dry-aged beef and freshly house-baked buns are served with a variety of seasonal relishes, sauerkrauts, and mustards for topping. Also on the menu: old-school dishes made new, like Oysters Rockefeller, Smoked Shellfish Casino, and Franks & Beans. Enjoy with a classic cocktail—try an Old Fashioned, Side Car, or Cosmo—and, yes, a side of sweet or spicy pickles.

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POSITIVI-TEA

BY AMY HOLOMAKOFF

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN SHYLOSKI

Summer is here. A time for hot weather, backyard barbeques, sunny beaches, and big, chilled glasses of iced tea. Brewing iced tea has come a long way from the sun tea we would make as kids, setting bags of Lipton in an oversized glass jar filled with water out to brew in the sunlight. More people are starting to take advantage of the variety of herbal teas available - all coming with the bonus of different health benefits. Stepping up your iced tea game is easy and only requires a knowledge of some essential herbs and a little guidance from Anna Perelli, owner of the Wildflower Centre for Natural Healing in Norwalk. “Herbs are truly amazing,” Anna said. “They have been used for thousands of years, across virtually all cultures, for their nourishing and healing abilities. Drinking tea and making herbal infusions are great for harnessing the healing power of plants in a gentle, safe way. Even kids love tea! “Teas are wonderful, accessible medicines that are relatively inexpensive, effective,

and easy to use. Today, herbs are being used to treat a number of different health conditions and chronic conditions. Whether someone’s looking to address stress, seasonal allergies, cardiovascular health, a sore throat, or even a break up—yes, there are herbs that help with grieving and mending a broken heart— you name it, teas are there to help.” Stepping into Anna’s shop, you are greeted by a wall of glass jars full of loose herbs. Some of the names are familiar: peppermint, chamomile, lavender, ginger—while others are more exotic like skullcap, oatstraw, lemon balm, and nettles. The shop offers more than 70 organic and ethically wildcrafted herbs as well as seasonal tea blends, with each ingredient selected for its healing properties. One of the blends is Stress Buster, which contains chamomile, oatstraw, peppermint, lemon balm, skullcap, lavender, and passionflower. Anna said that with the

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exception of peppermint, the ingredients are nervine herbs. “This class of herbs works gently to tonify and nourish the nervous system and re-establish normal nerve function and balance. They have a calming, restorative effect and efficiently reduce stress and alleviate tension,” she said. “Plus, it’s just so yummy!” Another blend, Allergy Support, contains nettles, rooibos, lemon balm, ginger, and peppermint. Nettles are known for their antiallergenic activity and are beneficial for hay fever and asthma; rooibos and ginger act as antihistamines; lemon balm supports respiratory issues; and peppermint is a soothing decongestant. To help combat the heat, try spearmint, peppermint, lemongrass, rose hips, and hibiscus flowers, which are all known for their cooling properties. There are a few different methods for brewing iced tea, but you should brew at twice the strength as your regular tea so that as the ice melts, the flavor won’t be diluted. As a general rule, for each quart of iced tea you’re looking to make, you should be using around one-half to three-quarters of a cup of loose herbs and then top off with enough hot or cold filtered water to fill the jar and then cover with a lid. (The less air you leave, the less likely bacteria will grow.) You can add the herbs loose, or place in a loose-leaf tea bag, nut milk bag, muslin, or cheesecloth. If using fresh herbs, double the amount used. After brewing, strain herbs well and add any sweeteners, such as honey, stevia, or maple syrup. Add an additional twist of lemon or other fruit to top off, if desired.

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TIP: When making any sort of tea or coffee, using good quality water is really important. After all, it is the base of your tea.


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“

DRINKING

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TEA

HERB

AND MAKING ARE GREAT FOR HARNESSING THE HEALING


BAL INFUSIONS ” POWER OF PLANTS IN A GENTLE, SAFE WAY.

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THE METHODS The quickest method is to boil water and let your herbs steep in it for 30-45 minutes. Strain the herbs from the tea, fill a glass with ice, and add the tea while it’s still hot. A basic sun tea requires only a few hours and a sunny spot. Using cold water, set your jar in the sun for 3-4 hours, checking to make sure it is in direct sunlight as much as possible. Strain the herbs from the tea, fill a glass with ice, and pour over the fresh tea. The longest, but easiest, brewing method is overnight iced tea. It’s a perfect set-it-and-forget-it recipe! Using cold water, seal the contents in your jar with a lid and set in the refrigerator overnight or for roughly 6-12 hours (if you forget it for up to 24 hours, it should still be okay). Strain the herbs from the tea and pour over a cup filled with ice. For sensitive stomachs, using boiled water may be the best option for brewing your teas, as it’s the safest method overall. Freshly brewed herbal tea is best consumed as soon as possible, ideally the same or next day. The tea tends to lose its potency as it sits and may eventually grow unwanted bacteria. It’s always wise to use good judgement when brewing at home, and a few safety precautions will help keep unwanted bacteria at bay: 1. Use a clean jar with a lid (and no spout) that has been washed in hot, soapy water or run through the dishwasher.

5. Add any sweeteners and fruit juice last. Bacteria feeds off of sugars, so wait until the brewing process is finished.

2. Choose a high-quality tea, as it’s less likely to come with bacteria on it.

6. Put your tea in the fridge or pour over ice as soon as it’s done brewing. Keeping the tea sitting at room temperature will encourage bacterial growth.

3. Use high-quality water. Some tap water contains bacteria but, in a pinch, you can boil it for 3-5 minutes to sterilize it. It’s also good practice to start your brew with very cold or very hot water, where contaminants are less likely to be found. 4. Fill your jar to the top with water, leaving little to no room for air, and seal with a lid. The lack of airflow will help keep bacteria at bay.

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7. Drink your sun tea the same day. It’s best consumed within eight hours. 8. Brew sun tea between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its hottest. Brew only for 3-4 hours. 9. Trust your intuition: If you have something slimy floating in your tea or if it looks or smells funny, it may be best to make another batch.


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“

A BASIC

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SUN TEA

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REQUIRES ONLY A FEW


W HOURS AND A

SUNNY SPOT.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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When using any herbal supplements, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure they won’t interfere with any medications or medical conditions. Lemon balm, for example, may have an effect on thyroid conditions. Wildflower Centre for Natural Healing has been a part of the community for more than 20 years and carries a variety of healing remedies, including bulk medical herbs, organic loose-leaf teas, botanical supplements, professionalgrade nutritional supplements, herbal tinctures, superfood blends, and essential oils. Anna can even whip up custom essential oil and tea blends. At the shop, you can also find small-batch, handcrafted items such as skin care products, home supplies, jewelry, crystals, and smudging bundles. Visit them online at centrehealingct.com. Anna Perelli has owned Wildflower Centre for Natural Healing since 2017, after having managed the apothecary for 12 years. She is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, holds a Certificate in Integrative Nutrition from Columbia University, and is currently studying intuitive plant medicine with herbalist Asia Suler. Anna’s love and respect for herbal medicine and the natural world inspire her to shine a light on the interconnectedness between our individual health and the health of our environment and our communities. When she’s not slinging herbs in the apothecary, Anna can be found in a forest, on a beach, among the flowers, or at home cooking and baking with her husband. They live in Connecticut with their family of rescued pets.

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GROWING, DRYING, AND KEEPING FRESH

HERBS

Shake off any dirt from your loose herbs. If necessary, give them a quick rinse and gently pat dry. Remove any dead or bruised leaves or stems and be sure to check for any bugs.

DRYING METHODS • Hang dry: Make sure herbs are fully dry, then tie into small bundles of roughly five stems using twine or a rubber band, being sure to leave enough space to allow for air flow. Wrap bundles in cheesecloth or a paper bag with holes punched in it and hang in a warm, dry area, away from direct sunlight. Check on herbs after about a week. They’ll be ready when they crumble easily and stems break instead of bend. • Dehydrator: Preheat dehydrator to 95 to 115 degrees (if high humidity, you can set it as high as 125 degrees). Making sure herbs are dry, place in a single layer on dehydrator trays and let dry 1-4 hours, checking periodically until herbs are crumbly to the touch and stems snap when bent. • Oven: Set oven temperature as low as it can go. Place fresh herbs on a baking sheet and set in oven, with door propped open, turning every 30 minutes or until dry. Herbs are ready when they begin to crumble and the stems break when bent. Herbs dried in this method may lose some of their potency, so more may need to be used in recipes. Stored in an airtight glass container, fresh dried herbs will keep for six months to a year.

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RECIPES

These recipes call for dried herbs. If using fresh herbs, double the amount used. Herbs placed in a loose-leaf tea bag, muslin, or cheesecloth. Consume as soon as possible, or w

ALLERGY SUPPORT

OVERNIGHT TEA WITH LOCAL HONEY MAKES 1 QUART. • • • • • • •

2 tablespoons nettles 1½ tablespoons rooibos 1 tablespoon lemon balm 1 tablespoon peppermint 1 tablespoon ginger 2 tablespoons local honey Lemon (optional)

In a one-quart Mason jar, combine herbs and enough water to cover until you reach a quart in volume, filling the jar. Let steep 6-12 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight. Strain herbs. Add sweetener, if desired. Pour over a glass filled with ice.

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COOLING BLEND TEA MAKES 1 QUART. • • • • • • •

3 tablespoons hibiscus flowers 3 tablespoons orange peel 1 tablespoon lemongrass 1 tablespoon rose hips 1 tablespoon spearmint 2 tablespoons local honey or oth Lemon (optional)

In a one-quart Mason jar, combine to cover until you reach a quart in v 30-45 minutes. Strain herbs and mi over a glass filled with ice or cover a optional twist of lemon before serv


can be added loose or within two days.

A

her sweetener (optional)

herbs and enough boiling water volume, filling the jar. Let steep for ix in honey. Immediately pour hot and place in refrigerator. Add an ving.

STRESS-BUSTER SUN TEA MAKES 1 QUART. • 1 tablespoon passionflower • 1 tablespoon lemon balm • 1 tablespoon peppermint • 1 tablespoon chamomile • 1 tablespoon lavender • 1 tablespoon oatstraw • 1 tablespoon skullcap • 2 tablespoons local honey or other sweetener (optional) • Lemon (optional) In a one-quart Mason jar, combine herbs and enough water to cover until you reach a quart in volume, filling the jar. Cover with lid and let steep 3-5 hours in the sun, checking to make sure the jar is in contact with the sun as much as possible. Strain herbs. Add lemon or sweetener, if you’d like. Pour over a glass filled with ice.

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C.S. SPENCER

h t ll e "Sm 160

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he sea sky. and

feel the

Let your soul and spirit

fly."

- VAN

MORRISON

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LISTEN IF YOU DARE Breaking Bread with Benn Grim BY WINTER CAPLANSON

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“WARNING: THIS PODCAST CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND PASSIONATE OPINIONS

(which may be unsuitable for the thinskinned), calls out what’s not working (which may be unsuitable for those unwilling to step up their game), and delivers an extra generous serving of humor (which may be unsuitable for anyone who takes themselves too seriously).” Chef Tyler Anderson calls him “Vince McMahon of the digital airwaves” and Chef Xavier Santiago says, “He’s the voice of food industry people.” Benjamin Grippo, a rapper and substance abuse counselor with a master’s degree in clinical counseling, lost 10 years of his life to opiate addiction and rehab. He battled back over the next decade, emerging, as surprised as anyone, to find himself a driving force in elevating the Connecticut food scene with his podcast, Breaking Bread with Benn Grim, a name referencing his rap moniker. A new episode publishes Tuesday mornings to an eager audience of line cooks who crush, chefs pushing the envelope, bartenders stirring mind-blowing “cocks and mocks,” and all the rest of us living in or on the fringes the Connecticut food world. Benn’s life post alcohol and drugs called for embracing a new vice. “I had nothing indulgent left, but I like to eat and thought that was probably going to be the closest I could get to using,” he recalled. And so he ate, a lot, especially desserts, his favorites, and met the Connecticut chefs behind the food. As a man who had successfully created a persona and promoted himself as a rapper, Benn thought, “Why not create food content, begin writing about it, and turn it into something?” That something was at first just restaurant reviews, Benn Breaks Bread, on Tumblr, awarding up to 10 loaves of bread as a rating. He wrote with no holds barred, sometimes awarding far fewer than 10 loaves. Benn began one review, “I haven’t done a bad review since late winter/early spring and I hoped one wouldn’t rear its ugly head for at least a year… but the time has come. I’m not here to bash, I’m here to inform. I’m a firm believer

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“BENN USES HIS TRUE DIY MENTALITY TO CREATE INTERESTING, BRA CT PUNK, HARDCORE AND HIP HOP SCENE ANECDOTES FROM YEARS P ADDED BONUSES. BENN SUPPORTS CONNECTICUT, VEHEMENTLY.” - C that spending hard-earned money on eating out should never result in a poor experience. My job as a food writer is to let you know what’s good and to also inform you on my personal opinion of the restaurant/food/service. I’m not here to be anyone’s friend, even though I make a lot of them. Think of me as a culinary referee. I’m gonna call the plays as I see them and I’m gonna throw a fucking penalty on the play if that shit sucks. Today we have multiple flags on the play.” His veracity raised ire among some, but many more found his honesty refreshing. And so Benn Grim the foodie brand was born, forged in red hot candor. His previous writing experience amounted to academic papers only, APA format if you please. Now, Benn’s focus was getting his word out in a voice unhindered by correctness or profanity filters. Benn said that, privately, chefs tell him, “‘You’re saying what we WANT to say, we can’t for professional reasons. You’re

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ZENLY FUNNY CONTENT

.

PAST AND PRESENT ARE

CHEF JOEL GARGANO

the only person saying it.’ The reality is that if you are working in the industry or mainstream media and say something crazy or piss somebody off, you’re gone. But no one can do that to me.” “Benn doesn’t give a flying fuck about your feelings,” said Dimitrios Zahariadis, aka The Cocktail Chemist. “If you don’t like what he says about you or your food, step up your game! Simple as that.” In fact, popular or not, telling the truth is the most important part for Benn. “I came from a place of zero credibility as a drug addict who no one trusted. I spent eight years being deceptive, feeding my addiction. I had shed that Benn; however, I needed to prove it to everybody.” Comfortable behind a microphone, Benn and his friend Dave Hutchinson launched a podcast exploring a variety of topics, and when Dave departed, Benn continued solo, doubling down on food. His fiancée, Meghan Mason, a graphic designer, assessed his Tumblr page as “some rookie shit.” Benn recalled, “I realized I needed to step it up and make a real website uniting the podcast and restaurant reviews. Once I did, they took off.” Going completely free style with no prepared questions, Benn interviews his podcast guests, many of them chefs, employing a sixth sense of quickly finding common ground with anybody and tearing into it with authenticity. The connection is real. “By the time they leave, I have a new friend.” “Benn is letting people know what is going on in Connecticut!” said Chef Van Hurd. “It’s a small market but we got shit going on! His podcasts are bringing a buzz to some very talented chefs and restaurants. It’s funny and gritty, and I fucking love it!”

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“BEN’S PODCASTS AND REVIEWS ARE SO REFRESHING! HE ONLY SURROUNDS HIMSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE AND HAS NO USE TO PROMOTE OTHERS JUST FOR THE SAKE OF ‘PROMOTION.’ HE HAS AN AGENDA TO SHOWCASE AND

PUT A SPOTLIGHT ON THOSE IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY THAT ARE PASSIONATE, UNCENSORED, EDUCATED, AND GENUINE. HE COMES FROM A PLACE OF REAL, NOT SOCIAL MEDIA OR PAID PROMOTION REAL, BUT ACTUAL REAL. IT’S WHAT TRULY DEFINES HIM AND HIS STYLE, AND SETS HIM APART FROM THE PACK.” - CARRIE CARELLA, OWNER AT NORA CUPCAKE CO. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Although Benn does include an occasional ad, the podcast has never turned a profit. He steers clear of the sponsored posts that are profitable for many social media influencers. “I have no wish to sell out and I’m not going to water down the brand.” Sometimes, a chef will send out a “gift from the kitchen” when Benn is recognized in a restaurant. If an offer is extended to dine on the house, and it’s a place Benn has been curious about, he’ll go. “But I am going to tell the truth when I write about it.” Most often, though, Benn dines anonymously to prepare for a review. Benn’s priority is not making money; it’s doing something good with that distinctive voice of his. “Not a day goes by where I don’t have a friend, or their mother, or even a stranger hitting me up via Facebook asking me where they should go eat. It makes me proud to send them in a direction they will be happy with…and I’ve never had anything to be proud of.” Where listenership is crucial in for-profit media, not so for Benn. “Podcast stats tell me how many listeners a show had. But I stopped looking because there were days where I thought, ‘I’m gonna be a fucking star,’ and there were other days when I just shut the computer after seeing a full eight people had listened. It’s not about that. I don’t care. It’s about somebody stopping me on the street to tell me what they liked.” What Benn himself likes in a restaurant is the weird stuff. “I want a menu where I’m reading and wondering what IS that?

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“HARD WORK AND DEDICATION HAS M IT’S NOT OFTEN YOU FIND A PERSON BREAD WITH BENN GRIM: THE MF VO


MADE BENN THE STRAIGHTFORWARD VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY PEOPLE. AS DEDICATED AND PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO. BREAKING OICE OF THE PEOPLE!” - CHEF XAVIER SANTIAGO, TRATTORIA TOSCANA

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“THE TOWER OF POWER! THE MAN OF THE HOUR!

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! TOO SWEET TO BE SOUR!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” - CHEF VAN HURD

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“LIKE THE VINCE MCMAHAHON OF THE DIGITAL AIRWAVES, BENN PROVIDES AN ‘I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK’ VIEW INTO THE WORLD AROUND HIM. FOOD, RESTAURANTS, MUSIC, ART AND LIFE IN GENERAL, NOTHING IS SAFE, LISTEN IF YOU DARE.” - CHEF TYLER ANDERSON, MILLWRIGHTS

Or that? An uncommon spice, an unfamiliar cut of meat, a vegetable the general population thinks is useless. I love it when I see a chef doing something most people are going to think is gross. Fermenting, preserving, and foraging for mushrooms…I’m a fan of getting over your fears to do the crazy. The unusual dish that was amazing, I make that the star of my review or a stand-alone Instagram post. My goal is to make someone try something new.” Benn has earned his place as a valued member of the Connecticut food world at a level he never anticipated. Perhaps it’s his unbridled appreciation for it that has fueled his evolution as a reviewer, giving a wider berth to restaurants still finding their legs. “I made a mistake, once, in going to review a restaurant that was open for three days,” Benn said in Episode 48, which aired on May 1. “I was served desserts that were still frozen solid. I wrote negatively about the place and really felt bad about that for a long time. My approach was ‘I’m going to be an asshole, and it’s going to cause a stir, and that’s how I’m going to get things to be found out about.’ Slowly, I learned that’s not the way to do it. Instead, take all the best and showcase that. Every once in a while, though, if you are very scorned, you can tell people about it. But remember, that will always be there to haunt you.” 174

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A chef not trying, not growing, not caring, however, is something he has no patience for, as seen in this exchange from Episode 50 on May 15: Chef Xavier Santiago: “It doesn’t matter how big you get or how much you accomplish or how much you have or don’t have…you always have to stay hungry for more.” Benn Grippo: “The minute you don’t is when you start making them shitty chicken parms…. I know cooks that are just there for the paycheck and don’t give a fuck about how you like their food. And then there’s the people that DO give a fuck.” Chef Mike Touranjoe: “And the people that do give a fuck end up being like us.” The Breaking Bread with Benn Grim podcast: passionate, irreverent, and funny. Nothing is safe, listen if you dare. People like us all are.

The Breaking Bread with Benn Grim podcast and reviews can be found at bennbreaksbread.com.

“BENN GRIM BRINGS THE PERFECT MIX OF INSIDER/OUTSIDER PERS HE MANAGES TO TAKE HIS TOPICS SERIOUSLY, WITHOUT TAKING HI APPRECIATE HIS PERSPECTIVES, THE GUESTS HE GETS AND THE TO 176

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SPECTIVE - HE’S PASSIONATE, IRREVERENT AND FUNNY. IMSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. IT MAKES FOR A GREAT MIX AND I OPICS HE TACKLES.” - CHEF BEN DUBOW, BISTRO ON MAIN CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Smith Worthington

Saddlery Company A HISTORICAL TREASURE by Paula Deutz

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“IN 1794, 22-YEAR-

OLD NORMAND SMITH

OPENED THE SHOP THAT WOULD BECOME SMITH-WORTHINGTON

SADDLERY COMPANY...” 180

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T

oday when we need something, we go outside, jump in the car, and head to the store. Now step back 224 years, when George Washington was still president. The roads were all dirt and your only transportation options were carriage, horseback, or your own feet. Before leaving the house, you’d have to dress, get the horses groomed, hook up the carriage, don your cloak and a blanket to cover yourself. It was in those times that Smith-Worthington Saddlery Company, the oldest continuously run saddle and harness company in the country, was born.

In 1794, 22-year-old Normand Smith opened the shop that would become Smith-Worthington Saddlery Company just north of the Old State House on Main Street in Hartford. Over the course of the next two centuries, the business was renamed several times as Smith’s children and grandchildren married and brought in new partners to the business. The Worthington in the company’s name is believed to be George Worthington Jr., who was the company’s vice president in 1885, but the company did not get its current name until 1905.

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“BY 1888, TH

WAS BOOM

HUNDREDS

WORKING

THREE H 182

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HE COMPANY

MING WITH

S OF STAFF

G OUT OF

HOUSES.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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In 1954, the company was sold to an employee, Clinton Hanks. Today, Hanks’ son Curtis runs the business with his wife, Ruth. By 1888, the company was booming with hundreds of staff working out of three houses. They also wholesaled products to saddle and harness makers across the country, shipping goods via rail and boats. At the peak of the company’s history, they produced 4,000 saddles a year. Saddles could be seen hanging from rafters, some stored in a giant walk-in bank safe on the building’s second floor. The company diversified at times to remain relevant, selling leather strapping, trunks, coats, blankets, and, for a short time in the 1920s, even automobile supplies. In 1961, the state acquired the company’s Sigourney Street home by eminent domain to make room for Interstate 84, and the company was forced to move to its current location at 275 Homestead Avenue. Today, the shop is functional with room to browse, boasting rows of English LEF TO RIGHT: CURTIS HANKS WITH HIS WIFE, RUTH. PORTRAIT: CLINTON HANKS 184

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“AT THE PEAK OF THE

COMPANY’S HISTORY, THEY PRODUCED 4,000

SADDLES A YEAR.”

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“THEY’RE LOOKING FOR

A NEW OWNER, A DEDICATED PERSON

TO CARRY ON THE

HISTORY AND TRADITIONS.”

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saddles for both adults and children, as well as bridles, halters, reins, whips, crops, surcingles, and more. When entering the building, you arrive at the retail house with saddles, bridles, surcingles, whips, and bits. The workshop on the first floor is filled with historic tools that have survived the company’s many years in business. The workshop has a leather cutting area, a sewing area, and the leatherwork desks where final details are done. Several old leather machines rest in back, most of them unused today.

The wood and metal base is covered with linen straining made of flax shipped from England. The linen is secured with rivets. The hand-cut saddle leather is made from Moroccan goat leather, pigskin, or cowhide.

The company still produces and repairs custom saddles. A custom saddle, which requires a fitting to both the horse and rider, takes two or more weeks to manufacture and can cost about $6,000.

Thanks to the Special Collections staff at Baker Library at Harvard Business School, Hartford Public Library Reference, and to Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Hanks for content in this article.7

Curtis and Ruth are now in their 70s, with no children to take over the business. They’re looking for a new owner, a dedicated person to carry on the history and traditions of the company and to take care of their employees. For more information, visit the company’s website, smithworthington.com.

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Behind the Pages

our contributors

Hilary Adorno is pleased to share her article on Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in this issue of Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine, representing her 12th article, in 11th consecutive issues over the last 2 ¾ years… statistically speaking. She wants to thank Winter Caplanson for taking a chance on her and encouraging her to follow her passions; of which writing is one. When she isn’t writing for CF&F, Hilary designs websites, print collateral and graphic designs for businesses all over the country. Christopher Andrew is a hunter, beekeeper, and dirt mover with a brand new orange tractor who looks forward to doing 10,000 more projects around the apiary. His favorite book to read to the bees is his toddler daughter’s copy of “Noisy Farm.” Winter Caplanson, our Editor-in-Chief, was for a long time a middle school teacher, until photography added to writing skills gave her a backstage pass to document the most exciting stories of Connecticut’s local food movement on the open road of freelance life. Sasha Dale is a portrait photographer specializing in women’s beauty and boudoir. She’s a coffee and pajama lover, mother of two little ones and a devoted navy wife. She grew up in this little state… though military has taken her to other locations, Connecticut will always be home. Paula R. Deutz is a retired banker, artist and equestrian, who occasionally works with PATH International as a therapeutic riding instructor. Published previously by a local Hartford magazine in the 80s, Paula utilizes her time volunteering, working with animals, travel and photography. This issue contains her first article for Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine. C.S. SUMMER PHOTO

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Alexander Fox has a halfway decent Instagram. He is the General Manager of Chalk Mercantile House & Home in Old Saybrook. Nancy Hankins is a multimedium artist that lives for collaboration. Her saunter begins with a BFA in fine art, followed by a focus on bio-intensive farming methods while living on an electric-less commune in Berkeley, CA. She grew delights for the likes of Alice Waters, while raising money to spearhead a non-profit that employed formerly homeless and built raised beds in shelters, on rooftops and in underprivileged schools as a training ground to nourish and teach. Later she was drawn to NYC, where she first tapped into the art and film world then immersed herself into the creative and nurturing life of hospitality. She has finally found her niche as Head of Special Events and Social Media at Red 36 as well as managing the floor and staff. Rebecca Hansen is a professional content creator and copywriter who tries to work a solid Muppets reference into most things she writes. Wanna geek out on travel trends and data? Read her stuff at kayak.com/news. Amy Holomakoff is a foodie from Connecticut with a love of farmer’s markets and fresh tomatoes. This summer you can catch her brewing fresh iced tea, taking pictures of her food and working on her fledgling blog. Teresa Johnson is a Woodstock-based photographer, lover of color, and chaser of light. When she’s not documenting weddings and moments for her clients, Teresa can be found eating dessert, cuddling with her cats, or losing to her husband at mini golf.

Jennifer LaVoie is an aspiring nude hang-glider - just kidding! She’s decided instead to take up beekeeping, which is less terrifying and there’s a sweet benefit at the end if done right! Besides the foray into beekeeping, she dabbles as a writer, loves good food and good company, and more often than not has her head buried in a book. Sarah Lefrancois is a farming rockstar with a heart of gold and a thumb of green. With a twinkle in her eye, she pets each and every bee in the apiary twice a day. Her “bring it on” attitude keeps the honey flowing. Rachel Martin is a freelance writer and communications + marketing consultant specializing in travel, food, the arts, and other once-in-a-lifetime experiences. She is also a sometimesphotographer and poet who believes in the hidden magic of small towns, forgotten places, used bookstores, quiet woods, and diner pancakes. She writes about those things, and more, at rachelgmartin.com. Lisa Nichols of Right Click Photo+Design is a photographer and designer working in the Hartford area. Both a world traveler and a bit of a hermit, she enjoys cooking shows, large quantities of good coffee and her cat Lily. Carlos Perez studied under some of Manhattan’s top chefs and working at numerous restaurants, including Mesa Bar and Grille, first starting off as a pastry chef, opening La Palette Bakery in Watertown in 2006. Perez went on to expand his repertoire as the executive chef of the high-end West Street Grill in Litchfield, before finding his home at 4 Eat & Drink in Farmington.


Callah Racine is a farmer and lead lettuce slinger at Tiny Acre Farm in Woodstock. You can find her sneaking a nap under the pine trees lining the property or sharing some crunchy radishes with the resident farm dog. She enjoys listening to hip-hop and My Favorite Murder podcast while working under the summer sun. Follow her and all the farm shenanigans on Instagram. Rita Rivera of Love & Pop is a graphic designer, tourism specialist and illustrator shipwrecked in Connecticut. Three hour tour indeed... Since she designs Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine, she always inputs her bio last and never knows what to write. She wants to wish her husband a happy 15th wedding anniversary. B Anna Sawin’s photography mostly features sun-splashed weddings and families in the coast of New England, so photographing sun-splashed lobster rolls for this issue fit right in. In addition to running her photography business, Anna is celebrating three years of her other business, Pencil & Lens, providing photographers and other creatives with scripts, templates, tools and tips to power their businesses.

John Shyloski, from Fairfield County, is known for his food photography as well as shots from the music scene. His favorite B’s about summer are Bicycles, Beaches and Brews. Jake Snyder recently took a seasonal position working with Sturgeon and Shad for the state of CT, and he hopes to spend a lot of time fishing this summer. He owns and operates Red Skies Photography, which focuses on architectural photography for numerous clients in the AEC industry.

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WINTER CAPLASON PHOTO WITH NORA CUPCAKE COMPANY

Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine, Summer 2018, Volume 13  
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