Helen Labun runs Hel’s Kitchen takeout restaurant in Montpelier (helskitchenvt.com). She also coordinates events (and reviews many cookbooks) for Bear Pond Books, also in Montpelier.
Written by Helen Labun | August 25, 2015
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | August 22, 2014
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | February 19, 2014
I’ve spent years walking past any dandelion greens I see for sale, on the grounds that I will not pay for something that’s growing everywhere I look all spring and summer. Granted, I never stop to pick those free dandelion leaves, so inevitably, a vegetable that I won’t buy because it’s too common ends up not being at all common on my plate. It’s the Dandelion Paradox. This past winter, I wanted to unravel it.
How we talk about—or don’t talk about—flavor
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | November 26, 2013
Local spirit makers add Vermont ingredients to their concoctionsby
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | April 04, 2013
Here’s the first thing you should know about making specialty liquors: cupcake vodka is not made by fermenting cupcakes. Likewise for the cotton candy, cookie dough, whipped cream, and caramel vodkas all lining store shelves today. These trendy varieties are made by adding flavoring after the vodka is distilled; it’s why we can have cocktails that resemble a dessert buffet. For many consumers today, this is the most familiar way to make a vodka stand out from the rest. But it isn’t the only way.
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2012
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.
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | September 01, 2011
Barley is furry. It is, in the eyes of Nick Cowles, “…golden and beautiful and furry…and it might tickle.”
Nick was preparing a group of Green Mountain Crop Mob volunteers to enter his fields at Shelburne Orchards this past July. He was responding to a question about appropriate clothes for that morning’s work. The furry warning, and a gesture to the bathroom (recently cleaned in our honor), were all we needed before setting off through the orchards toward the five acres of barley we’d signed on to weed that morning.
Maple syrup producers discover a range of flavors—and “a taste of place”
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | March 01, 2011
There are people in Vermont who prefer fake maple syrup—not just people who are looking for something cheaper but who actually prefer the stuff made of corn syrup. There are other people in Vermont who don’t talk to those fake syrup types. And there are Vermonters who stand by Grade B for all occasions and others who keep a little Fancy on hand.
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2010
A buried kimchi pot looks like a small bump in the ground.
The buried kimchi pot at Laughing Lotus Farm looks like a small bump in the ground in someone’s dooryard, which a visitor could walk past without a second glance.
“But imagine a field of buried kimchi pots!” Dave Brodrick enthused minutes after I arrived at Laughing Lotus Farm and walked past the bump in the dooryard. I imagined a field of the same small bumps.
What country stores mean in today’s Vermont
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | September 01, 2009
The local foods movement can claim its roots in Vermonters’ earliest enterprises. Long before ski vacations and the Golden Dome, there was boiling down maple sap and digging root crops for the winter. But food isn’t the only part of our local economy with a long pedigree. Our country stores have a history that stretches through the centuries, close on the heels of those first farms. And like those farms, today’s country stores are both celebrated by their community and challenged to find a viable business model to carry them into the future.
Written by Helen Labun Jordan Helen Labun | June 01, 2009
Here are some facts about an acre. It is 43,560 square feet. It’s about 40 percent of a hectare, the metric system’s equivalent of an acre. It can be estimated by picturing a football field without the end zones. Most U.S. agricultural production takes place on a much, much grander scale—an average of 440 acres, to be exact—but to many Americans, having even a single acre of productive land seems like a pretty good deal.