• Editor's Note Summer 2012

    Editor's Note Summer 2012

    Not everyone gets to eat popcorn popped in pork fat. But there it was in a big pot, greeting four sweaty interns after our morning removing a winter’s worth of bedded pack from a hoop house and doing other tasks too numerous to mention. The popcorn was mighty tasty, and eager hands grabbed for it around the communal table.

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  • Weed Eater

    Weed Eater

    ‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I planned the dinner with Emerson’s optimism and an eye on my backyard. Through spring’s soaking rains I watched Japanese knotweed swell beside the garden shed and was cheered by the sight of garlic mustard peeping up between the raspberry canes. When slender stalks rose amidst the mustard’s heart-shaped leaves and a few early flowers appeared, it was time to send out the invitations.

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  • A Smokin’ Place

    A Smokin’ Place

    The previous home of Vermont Smoke & Cure was at the end of the Exit 6 ramp off I-89, at the bottom of a long hill, at the first stoplight on the corner, inside the back of a gas station.

    “Don’t laugh,” the company’s website said. “Remember that other Vermont food company that started out in a gas station (hint: the ice cream guys).”

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  • Set the Table with Gluten-free baked goods

    Set the Table with Gluten-free baked goods

    We fell in love over dessert—pie to be specific—and when our relationship began, a friend exclaimed to Edge, “This is perfect! Katie loves to bake, and you love to eat baked goods!” The truth is, we both love to bake and eat, so for one whole summer we enticed each other with homemade bread, muffins, and treats made of flour and sugar and butter, stuffing dozens of cookies in our packs for each climbing or hiking trip. During that same summer, Edge was battling a parasite he’d picked up in Mexico the winter before. After many weeks of seeing naturopathic doctors, he finally gave in to a three-day antibiotic regimen, which killed the parasite for good and wiped his gut clean at the same time. That changed everything.

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  • Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 2

    Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 2

    When I tell farmers that I’m planning to grow a portion of the food for my Montpelier restaurant, sometimes they laugh at me. “Good luck with that,” one wiry, tanned grower at the farmers’ market chortled, noting that I’d probably lose money for the first three years rather than save a bundle.  “Let me know how it goes for you,” he suggested as I walked away, a wicked gleam in his eye.

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  • Diversifying Dairy in Vermont

    Diversifying Dairy in Vermont

    Turkey Hill Farm sits on 50 acres of land in Randolph. The view was breathtaking from Stuart and Margaret Osha’s porch, as we sat one morning in April listening to the songbirds and the happy pigs rooting under the trees. I came to the farm to find out what it’s like to launch a value-added dairy product after years of selling raw milk. A few weeks later, the Oshas announced they will be moving on from farming this fall, but their story remains compelling.

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  • The Development of a Recipe

    The Development of a Recipe

    When I entered college I planned on being a computer programmer, but by the time graduation rolled around, plans had changed. My baking hobby was fast becoming a professional interest, and while it might not seem like a clear path from computer science and applied math major to choosing a career in baking and recipe development, both interests make good use of my logical brain that likes to play. I spent a couple of years working in other kitchens before I got the nerve to start Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, and I love the repetitive day in, day out of the wholesale baking gig. But my recipe development gives me some room to play without having to create and maintain whole new product lines for stores.

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  • Farming without Harm

    Farming without Harm

    Ray Bernier, like many farmers, is inventive. When he realized he needed to transition out of the dairy business, he turned his Milton farm into a home for 400 emus. The emu market didn’t materialize (although he still swears by emu oil and buys some every year at the fairs) so he turned to raising horses. Somewhere along the line there were ostrich in there, too, but he could never get the chicks to grow to adults.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Blueberry Bounty

    Farmers' Kitchen—Blueberry Bounty

    How many blueberries can you fit in your mouth? I’ll race you up Blueberry Hill! Can we go to the pajama party in the blueberry field? When is the Blueberry Festival? These are just a few of the questions we hear over and over again as the blueberry season begins.

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  • Mizuna


    Mizuna, tatsoi
    tokyo burkana
    red kumatsu
    claytonia, minutina -
    I dip these foreign leaves by the bushel
    into a sink pond cold and clear
    and wash away the clay that coats my farm.

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Editor's Note Summer 2012

Son of Silas Butson, Farm Security Administration client, helping to cut the hay. Athens, Vermont; photo by Jack Delano, 1941.

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

June 01 , 2012

Not everyone gets to eat popcorn popped in pork fat. But there it was in a big pot, greeting four sweaty interns after our morning removing a winter’s worth of bedded pack from a hoop house and doing other tasks too numerous to mention. The popcorn was mighty tasty, and eager hands grabbed for it around the communal table.

It was a typical noontime meal at Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield, where I’m working one day a week this summer. Each workday (which is every day on a farm), lunch is prepared for all by someone who works there: Mari Omland or Laura Olsen, the farmer-owners, or one of the interns. (I hear Laura’s mom might get put in the rotation when she moves next door this summer.) What impresses me each time is that the meals are made with whatever is in the fridge—which is primarily what comes from the land we’ve just worked.

It’s like that segment on NPR’s The Splendid Table, a program that’s a little too foodie for me, except for the part when a caller tells a celebrity what’s in his or her fridge, and the celebrity has to make a brilliant creation out of it. Our lunches at the farm are similarly experimental and intuitive, mixing pork and chard and eggs and chevre and salsa and ground turkey and tomatillos and radishes in more ways than one could possibly imagine.

What did I cook for my first farmers’ lunch? Kielbasa burritos—a true manifestation of multiculturalism in food.

Farmer food is the antithesis of most recipes you find in magazines, which try to be memorable by being complex. Yet, as we were putting together this issue of Local Banquet, I realized that improvised farm lunches have a lot in common with the recipes we’re running in this issue. Writers Claire Fitts, Katie Spring, and Jen Smith were all highly experimental in the recipe creations they undertook for their articles. Like the folks at Green Mountain Girls Farm, they were working with a limited ingredient list and following their instincts.

As a result, we have an essay on page 8 about turning invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard into tasty desserts; a first-person account on page 18 of being a professional recipe developer with an occasional vegan twist; and an article on page 12 about how to adapt favorite baked goods into gluten-free ones. Although recipes aren’t the focus at Local Banquet, we’re happy that synchronicity led most of the recipes in this issue to be paeans to self-taught culinary creativity.

Pass the porky popcorn!

—Caroline Abels

About the Author

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels is the editor of Local Banquet and the founder-editor of Humaneitarian.org, a website that inspires people to buy and eat humanely raised meat.

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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


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