A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson


If my ducks stay in rows, I have them  in and if my stars line up right, this summer the farm will once again be productive. One of my cousins is going to plow and harrow a small plot by the barn cellar. I want to put in a few vegetables and hope I will have the energy when the times comes. Another cousin asked me if I was planting vegetables for myself or the deer. I had to think about that.

In the old days, the farm had eight garden plots and a field for wheat/oats. Not all of the plots were planted every year but they were available. The longest fields were reserved for strawberry plants. That way we did not have to plant so many rows but picking one row seemed to take forever. I would pick for what seemed like hours. When I stood up to see where I was, the end of the row was still miles away (or so I thought).

The vegetables were planted closer to the house. We grew carrots, peas, turnip, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, winter squash, yellow string beans, winter (yellow-eyed) beans, beets and potatoes for  market. In his early days of market, my father peddled the  vegetables door-to-door in Calais. Laura Pearl Jackman was one of his favorite customers. I think she lived on the upper end of Calais Avenue

As the times changed and more people had vehicles, my father switched to delivering only to stores. Still there were many stops because we went to all small stores. In Woodland we went to Coulter’s, Carmalt’s, Croman’s, Seaman’s, and Murray’s Cash Store on Main Street. Then we went to Hill’s in Baring and Harry Hamilton’s in Milltown. In Calais we had a stop at Lunn’s on Union Street, Gibson’s on North Street, Clark’s on Washington Street, a small store on the corner of Washington  and South Street, and the big IGA on Main Street. Mr. Tingley ran that store. I cannot remember doing any business with the A&P on Main Street.

When the regular times for selling fresh vegetables became very strict, it became unprofitable to sell anything but potatoes, cucumbers and strawberries. Carrots had to be washed and bagged; turnips had to be waxed; and other vegetables had to be either washed or bagged. These regulations made the process of selling vegetables too time consuming and unprofitable for the “little man” trying to make a living.

My garden will not be as expansive as those gardens in the old days. I want to have a few tomatoes, carrots, beets and cucumbers. We never planted any summer squash on the farm, but I think I will try some this year. I also want to have some rhubarb roots; this will have nothing to do with the garden.

If my dreams come to fruition, the farm will be a farm once again. I think my father, uncle and grandfather would be pleased.


This week I looked for a dessert recipe. This one popped up on a computer I am using and it is for a pie with a phyllo crust and is presented with the courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis.

Special Phyllo Spring Pie


Three-fourths cup powdered sugar plus extra for garnish

Three large eggs

Two teaspoons pure vanilla extract

One tablespoon orange zest

One (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta cheese

One-half cup cooked short-grained rice

One third cup toasted pine nuts

Six sheets fresh phyllo sheets, frozen or thawed

Three-fourths stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter melted

Method: Blend three-fourths cup of powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and ricotta in food processor until smooth. Stir in the rice and pine nuts. Set this ricotta mix aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 9-inch glass pie dish. Lay on phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of dish allowing the phyllo to hang over the sides. Brush phyllo with melted butter. Top with second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in opposite direction as the first phyllo dough. Continue layering phyllo (the remaining sheets) alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the pie plate.

Fold the overhanging phyllo dough over the top of the filling to enclose it completely.

Brush completely with the rest of the melted butter.

Bake the pie until phyllo is golden brown and the filling is set (about 15 minutes). Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely.

Sift powdered sugar over pie and serve.


Enjoy this new recipe with your family members and friends.