Happy New Year! The month of January is always an inspiration for me. Being snow bound allows for creativity in the kitchen, developing new recipes, admiring seed catalogs, and dreaming of spring, and the new planting season!
In January, we start planning for the next harvest season in earnest. First, we take an inventory to see what ingredients are still in the cooler and freezer: wild blueberry puree, ruby-red cranberries, tomato puree, peach puree, Chestnut and Famuese apples, eggplant, leeks, roasted red peppers, and more. Then we have lots of discussions about what products to bring to market, and evaluate the feedback from our shareholders.
Flip, our chief Finance person, is charged with the task of determining what products are profitable to bring to market, and therein lays the key: profitability. To rebuild a sustainable food system, all parties involved, farmers, workers, distributors, and processors need to make a fair living and be profitable. Because we are determined to create a company that provides value chains, we work with everyone along the value chain to ensure profitability. When the consumer purchases our product, they are paying the true cost of local, organic food.
Some folks think we started this company to feed our family…and in many ways we did, the entire Maine family. Thanks to you, we are putting more Maine food on Maine plates every day. Thanks for supporting “our family” and Maine agriculture!
January 2014 Shareholder Special Items
Pickled Green Strawberries: Back in June, Marada Cook of Crown of Maine Distributors convinced me that Pickled Green Strawberries were the latest ingredient trend…seems that restaurant folks like the French Laundry in California were serving them on a butter-poached lobster, David Chang on PBS enjoyed them over fresh sea scallops, and they were even showing up in cocktails and garnishing white sangria. If our company were to make a significant enough of a purchase, several Maine chefs would also be able to start working with them. So, I bought it, hook, line and sinker…and here they are. Try them…and let us know, honestly, if Maine is trendy enough for Pickled Green Strawberries!
Organic Maine Apple Ketchup: Before I started making Jack’s Organic Ketchup, the staple in our household was apple ketchup. We enjoy Organic Maine Apple Ketchup on roasted potatoes, as a grill sauce, and as a condiment for pork, chicken, even fish. Think outside the tomato…and enjoy your apples today! (Next to wild blueberries, apples are Maine’s second most prolific fruit.)
Aroostook Biscuit Mix: Aroostook County is the breadbasket of the Northeast, and I am determined to get more folks to eat more whole grains. This biscuit mix is extremely versatile, and easy to use…think Bisquick, only from way up North. Want some cheesy biscuits? Before baking, brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Need a heartier flavor? Try making them with bacon fat and serving them up hot for breakfast. For some Maine families, the best old-fashioned way to enjoy your biscuits is dripping with molasses or apple cider syrup.
How was the flavor and texture of the Pickled Green Strawberries? How did you use the product? Are trendy ingredients of interest to your family?
For our long-term shareholders, you may recognize Organic Maine Apple Ketchup as Wild Apple Grill Sauce…same product, different name. We are researching a line of fruit ketchups for larger retail markets. Does this have appeal for your family? How about the jar size? We changed to a wider-mouthed jar. Would an 8-ounce jar be a better family size for this product?
Speaking of jar size, the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce comes to you in a 12-ounce jar. Because our products do not use preservatives or additives, we strive to provide appropriate amounts that the consumer, once the jar is opened, will use before spoiling. Is this a good size? How about a 16-ounce jar size?
Our preserves and jams continue to be good sellers, but our new labels don’t fit on the jam jars. We will be switching to a new, straight-sided jar this year, that will not be a standard canning jar size. Is the 8-ounce quantity of the jar a good value? Do mason jars appeal to your family for reuse, or is this not a priority?
Puerto Rican Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice (Asopao de Pollo)
This is a riff on a classic Puerto Rican stew/paella. The savory stew is rich in flavor.
1/4cupchopped fresh cilantro leaves, add at the end
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
In a large fry pan, heat the bacon fat and add the onions. Cook until they just start to soften. Transfer to the crock-pot. Add the sliced carrots, olives, capers, dried oregano, and hot pepper flakes to the onions. Brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat, and then add to the vegetables. Pour the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce over, and add 3 cups of water or chicken stock and the red wine. (There should be enough liquid to cover the chicken pieces.)
Set on high, and cook until the chicken pieces are done and the vegetables are tender. About 1 hour before serving, add one cup of brown rice and cook until done.
In a large skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil and add the onion slices. Sauté until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in the green beans, covering them with the sauce. Put the lid on the pan and cook until the beans are tender.
Serve hot or cold. Garnish by sprinkling with chopped fresh rosemary. Makes 6 servings.
Heat a heavy soup pot. Remove the casing from the sausage, crumble into the pot, and cook until just about done and the fat is rendered. Add the chopped leeks, and cook, stirring until the leeks start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the Puttanesca Pizza & Pasta Sauce. Rinse out the jar with water, and add the 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and serve. Makes six servings.
Scrub potatoes. Cut into wedges. Soak in a bowl of water. Dry with paper towels. Toss with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven, turning as needed. Serve with Organic Maine Apple Ketchup.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut the apples. Sauté briefly in one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Stir in the Spiced Peach Butter and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Roll out the puff pastry on a well-floured surface. Cut into six rounds, each about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Divide the apple mixture between the puff pastry rounds. Gently turn up the edges, squeezing together as necessary to hold the filling in place and form a tart. Place on a cookie pan and bake until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes six tarts.