Maine Composts Week

This week, May 7-13, it’s time to celebrate, learn about, and practice all things compost in Maine!

Organized by the George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, Maine Composts Week features resources, activities, contests and more, across the state, “to help facilitate improving resource management of organic materials in Maine.” It also coincides with International Compost Awareness Week.

Composting is a way to turn something that could be considered waste into something useful–combining food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, etc. and encouraging the work of microbes and other decomposers to break it all down into soil-enriching humus.

Check out a video shared on the Maine Composts Week Facebook page:

Image is not availableAt MCSV we collect our kitchen scraps and other organic materials generated in our building, and have a two-bin composting set-up at the edge of the woods and yard. We also collect the culled materials from our wild-harvested seaweeds and sell this as compost for gardeners. Seaweeds add abundant minerals, organic material, and even natural chemicals that feed plant growth and health to compost.

And many of us on staff are gardeners ourselves, using MCSV culls as well as seaweeds we collect off nearby shores to grow veggies, flowers, fruits, and herbs. MCSV founders Shep and Linnette Erhart have perhaps one of the most ambitious and seaweed-rich compost piles you’ve ever seen, that feeds their abundant gardens.

The Erharts’ seaweed-enriched compost system

Our Outreach and Education teams also works on local school gardening projects, helping schools incorporate seaweed into their gardens.

Maine Composts Week is about more than composting organic material so it doesn’t end up in landfills–it’s about ending hunger and food insecurity, closing the loop from farm to table to farm (or garden) again, and being more aware of and reducing the packaging of the products we use in our daily lives. As the saying goes, we get better at what we practice, and we’re always practicing something. So why not practice using our resources wisely?

And as always, Eat Your Sea Vegetables! (As food, or in compost to feed the plants that feed you!) :)

 

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Seaweed and verse

QK567_Se1_Sea_Weeds_p022_PS4In celebration of National Poetry Month, and the love of seaweed and words and art, here is a gem we discovered recently at The Public Domain Review, an album filled with Victorian “seaweed pictures” and one of the sweetest seaweed poems, ever…

Ah! call us not weeds —
We are flowers of the sea
For lovely and bright
And gay tinted are we —

We are quite independent
Of culture and showers
Then call us not weeds
We are oceans’s gay flowers.

 

And, another discovery, a poem by Pablo Neruda

XXXIV (You are the daughter of the sea)

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

And finally a quote from the great naturalist and writer Loren Eiseley

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Sea Vegetables Make a Splash at Adult Ed

Maine Coast residents discover the delights of sea vegetable cookery…

Enthusiastic home cooks gathered recently at Sullivan Town Hall in the Adult Ed kitchen. Their mission? To learn about sea vegetables by trying several fun recipes. Lured by the promise of tasty, high-nutrient-value foods, the group chopped, minced, puréed, blended, basted, and baked their way through three 2-hour classes with delicious results.

Kelp Carrot Soup accompanied by Tangy Olive Tapenade and Sea Seasoned Pita Chips.

The first class concluded with a feast of smooth and creamy Kelp Carrot Soup garnished with sour cream and crumbled Dulse. The soup paired nicely with Pita Chips baked with Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Sea Seasonings®: Sea Salt with Sea Veg, Kelp with Cayenne, and Dulse with Garlic. There was also a slightly spicy and very Tangy Olive Tapenade with Dulse Flakes for dipping.

The second class featured main course selections that filled and delighted all! The highlight of the entire course was the Alaria (“Wild Atlantic Wakame”) Salad with its satisfying umami dressing and spiraled cucumber crunch. (See recipe below.)

Alaria (“Wild Atlantic Wakame”) has had a cold-water soak and a brief hot bath and now is ready to be made into thin strips for salad.

Dulse Cheese Scones, flavorful Black Beans with Kelp, and Southwest Peking Rolls with Toasted Dulse made for an eclectic meal alongside the Wakame Salad.

Things got even sweeter as the class explored ways to include sea vegetables in dessert. Irish Moss, after soaking in cold water, was boiled in milk to make a delightful, light, and healthy pudding. Alaria was whizzed in a blender with frozen berries, banana, and coconut milk for an incredible smoothie. Kelp was reduced with maple syrup, rolled in sesame seeds, and roasted. Dulse Flakes were soaked in dark rum before being added to a rich, dark chocolate brownie batter.

Heather selects some Candied Kelp to take home to share.

Needless to say, there were many exclamations of of joy and sweet surrender as the treats were shared at this last class of the series. Filled with inspiration and supplied with sea vegetables for their own pantries, the cooks returned home to spread the good flavors and healthy benefits of sea veggies with their family and friends.

Stay tuned for news of the next Adult Ed Sea Vegetable cooking class in the near future!

~Kara Ibarguen
MCSV Community  Outreach (and Kelp Krunch™ Baker!)

Seaweed Salad Recipe

  • 2oz Alaria
  • 3 T low-sodium Tamari
  • 3 T Rice Vinegar
  • 2 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Raw Sugar
  • 1 T Sesame Seeds
  • 1 t finely chopped Green Onions
  • 1/2 European Cucumber, spiralized
  • Crushed Red Peppers to taste (optional)

Soak the Alaria in cold water for 5 minutes. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the Alaria, cook for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut or rip the seaweed into 1/2″ strips. Combine the dressing ingredients and mix until the sugar and miso are dissolved. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until they become aromatic. Spiralize the cucumber into a large bowl. Toss the seaweed with the dressing and put on top of the cucumber. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, green onion and crushed red pepper, if desired. Yields 6 servings.

Recipe is adapted from one found in “Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease and Revitalizing Body & Soul” by Valerie Gennari Cooksley, RN

 

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“Did seaweed make us who we are today?”

From the files of fascinating seaweed stories…

Early humans needed most of their energy just to survive, and spent most of their time getting and eating foods to supply the energy they needed. So how did we evolve to have the large brains we have now, which require lots of energy, when most of our ancestors’ energy was used simply to make it to tomorrow?

A recent article on the website of Southern Denmark University highlights a paper that looks at the part that seaweed may have played in the development of the modern, large human brain.

The paper was published in January 2017 in the Journal of Applied Phycology (phycology = study of algae, including but not limited to seaweeds). One of the authors is Ole Mouritsen, a Danish scientist and food enthusiast who’s written several articles about seaweeds as well as the excellent book, Seaweeds: Edible, Available, Sustainable.

Seaweeds’ abundance of minerals, particularly iodine, zinc, magnesium, and other nutrients including polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and vitamin B12, is cited as a source of nutrients needed by early humans to develop larger, more organized, and complex brains. The authors suggest that access to seaweeds and other coastal foods may have contributed to the development of modern humans.

And you thought seaweeds just tasted good… :)

~~~Eat your sea vegetables!~~~

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Solutions for microplastic pollution

Last year World Oceans Day focused on plastic pollution in the oceans, and we featured a three-part series to celebrate the oceans and highlight the problems, and some potential solutions, of plastics in the sea.

Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces found in ocean waters all over the world that come from fleece and synthetic fabric garments, plastic micro-beads in body care products, and the breakdown of plastics in the water. They are one of the most insidious threats to ocean health, and to the health of all creatures that live in the oceans and eat from the oceans, including humans. Although seaweeds seem to be relatively untouched by microplastics, we recognize that all life in the sea depends on the health of ocean ecosystems.

So we were excited to learn this week of two efforts to curb pollution from microplastics–working right in our washing machines.

The Cora Ball bounces around in the washing machine, or dryer, and collects microplastics and other fibers so they don’t go down the drain, and ultimately out to the sea. It was created by a group of scientists, ocean protectors, innovators, and educators and modeled after the way corals sweep through the water and trap tiny particles of food. (Biomimicry!) Plus they are made from recycled plastic, and are recyclable.

The Guppy Friend also traps plastic particles so they don’t go down the drain, but does so by wrapping around synthetic fabric garments in the wash. Rather than popping a few Cora Balls in the washer, you slide your fleeces into Guppy Friend bags before they go in the machine.

 

From the Cora Ball story:

“We are eating our fleece.

Every time we do laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers (including plastic), which go down the drains of our washing machines, through wastewater treatment facilities and into our waterways.

Everyone who wears and washes clothes is part of this pollution. Everyone who eats or breathes could suffer the consequences.”

And we’d add: Everyone can be part of the solution. Just by doing our laundry.

 

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La Choza: burrito lovers, meet seaweed

La Choza, a fun burrito joint on Martha’s Vineyard (transplanted from the Berkshires of western MA), recently added some new recipes, new toppings, and new products to its lineup. Among them: luscious vegan chili, chicken salad, and our Dulse and Sea Seasonings. Owner Seth Gambino even roasts the Dulse to add extra crunch and flavor.

La Choza’s new chicken salad, filled with veggies and with roasted Dulse sprinkled on top.

It’s true–sea veggies can add briny flavor along with a boost of minerals to all sorts of foods, including burritos, salads, nachos, dips, spreads, soups and chili, breads, and even desserts–the list goes on and on…

Hungry yet? Next time you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, check out La Choza! Many thanks to Seth for adding our products, and sharing some sea veggie love with his customers.

All photos: La Choza
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Go for the green on St. Patty’s Day–seaweed, that is

From NPR’s The Salt blog, a tale of Ireland and seaweed, including the fabulous recipe for Dulse and Cheese Scones from Prannie Rhatigan’s cookbook, Irish Seaweed Kitchen–one of our favorite recipes, from one of our favorite cookbooks:

Want to Eat Green for St. Patrick’s Day? Do It the Irish Way–with Seaweed

“Rhatigan grew up with seaweed-spiked meals, and as a physician she is especially keen on seaweed’s health profile. But her evangelism isn’t just about the minerals and protein – she’s taken with the flavor that’s waiting right off the shore, which can be used to spike butter, or toasted up into the maritime equivalent of a kale chip. Because on St. Patrick’s Day, why should your Shamrock Shake be the only thing that’s green?”

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Coming up: Cooking with sea veggies class!

We’ve just learned that there are only five spots left in the upcoming Get to Know Your Sea Veggies cooking class starting March 29! The class will run on three Wednesdays, March 29, April 5, and April 12, 5:30-7:30 pm at the Sullivan Learning Center.

In three consecutive Wednesday night classes you can explore the ocean’s vegetable bounty and the delicious flavors it offers. The first class will be an introduction to seaweed varieties and the chance to make some tantalizing appetizers to add to your repertoire. The second class will feature several main course recipes to make and share including: Southwest Peking Rolls with Smoked Dulse and Ancho Chilies. The final class will delve into the sweet side of sea vegetables with some tempting dessert treats and smoothie ideas to round out the menu.

Join MCSV Krunch baker and educator Kara Ibarguen for this fun and yummy class!

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

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Sea veggie cooking class

Want to learn about the wonders of sea vegetables, and how to use them in culinary adventures? If you live in our neighborhood in downeast Maine (or want to visit), you’re in luck.

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

In late March to early April, our very own Kelp Krunch baker, cooking maven, and educator Kara Ibarguen will teach a class through the local Adult Education center called “Get to Know Your Sea Veggies.”

Beginning on March 29, the class will run on three Wednesday evenings at the Sullivan Learning Center. Each will have a different focus–on appetizers, main course dishes, and desserts. Plus an introduction to sea veggie varieties.

Southwest Peking Spring rolls with Smoked Dulse and Ancho chiles, anyone? YUM!

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Happy Holidays from MCSV

From all of us at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, wishing you and yours a warm and joyful holiday season!

Thank you for loving sea veggies, choosing our products, and helping us learn and grow.

We wish you all the best in 2017.

And Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

 

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