Tag Archive | Mia Epsilon

It’s National Farmer’s Market Week!

FRESH, FRUIT AND FUN

By Mia Epsilon

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It’s National Farmer’s Market Week! It’s time to celebrate those ‘little guys’ who mean so much to all of us. America, the UK and many other countries survive because of Farmers, yet next to Teachers (sorry, personal opinion and bias here) they are the most unappreciated and certainly lowest paid people in the world. Think about the food you eat. If it grows in the ground, either on a tree, bush, vine or dirt, you can thank a farmer.

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So what exactly is a ‘farmer’s market’? The word is as familiar to me as my own name; I grew up in a rural area and my family was farmers. My summers were spent helping in the garden, sucking corn, picking beans and going on the hunt for blackberries which grew in abundance wild joyous freedom. Where I live now is the largest apple producing area in the state, second in the nation in production and first in the types of apples produced. ‘Apple Country’ has over two hundred different types of apples: from ‘pink ladies’ to Arkansas blacks’ to ‘golden delicious’. I also live in the state number one in production of sweet potatoes. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries still, where unchecked, grow in joyous spreading freedom. I’m blessed.FW3

But I digress. A Farmer’s Market is where local farmers take their harvest ‘to market’. There are numerous types: small tables set along the road to huge warehouse type ‘stores’. But the one thing they have in common: everything is local grown, local produced and healthier than anything you will ever buy in a conventional store. I love my Farmers’ Markets here. And yes, that’s plural: we have several. There’s the ‘really big one’ near the only big town in these mountains, with over one thousand local farmers and growers, everything from corn and beans to flowers and herbs, organic to still picked by hand, livestock like cows and pigs to chickens and goats. It’s an almost overwhelming explosion of color, scents and sounds.FW4

Yet my favorite Farmer’s Market’s are the small ones. The ones where the farmers, their wives, and children see me coming and call me by name. These are the hard workers, the very backbone of any nation who keep us fed and happy. They show me the freshest, “just picked thirty minutes ago, hun” and the best deals “we’re doing two bundles because the fresh is about to go off” and don’t mind if I thump a melon to test it or pinch a carrot. I once bought fresh eggs and in my friendly chatting with the wife, I drove off without the eggs. The farmer’s son followed me for ten miles, flashing his lights until I pulled over and he could hand me the eggs.FW5

My favorite finds are Farmers’ Markets are the vegetables. And the fruits. But especially the flowers. I may not always buy the bouquets, but there’s something about seeing the happy faces of sunflowers or wildflowers which makes it impossible not to smile back. ‘Happiness Grows From the Ground Up’ is a sign hanging from the flowers’ farmer’s table. His name is Walter and he started growing flowers for his British wife because she missed her English garden so much when he married her at the end of World War 2 and brought her back to his home. She died ten years ago and now Walter sells his flowers to make other wives and sisters and daughters happy. How’s that for a beautiful story?

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When my children were small, we had a huge garden in the backyard and we continued the family tradition of ‘growing your own’. For some reason rhubarb grows like crazy here, and I don’t like it. My neighbors beside me love it and they trade me all the rhubarb they want for all the sweet potatoes I want. My neighbor also makes the world’s most incredible applesauce and supplies me, to this day, with dozens of jars every fall. I used to joke it wouldn’t be fall without Marilyn and her ‘sauce’; she is older now, and I know the fall is coming where there won’t be her sauce to enjoy over warm gingerbread on a cold winter night. She knows it, too, because she shared her recipe with me and gave her permission for me to share it with you.

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Pre Plowed and Planted Garden Spot

In addition to the garden, we raised chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, bees and ducks. We also had a horse and rabbits. My graduation from college gift was twenty five baby ducklings from my neighbors. My kids named them all so they couldn’t be eaten. “If they have a name, they aren’t food”, my eight year old son reasoned. And Huey, Dewy, Louie, Sonny, Cher, Brittany, Madonna, King, Queen, Princess, U2, Nickelback, Donald, Daisy, Daffy and friends lived contentedly many years never in fear of a roasting pot. The turkeys were for the church Thanksgiving dinner; the pig was winter supplies, the bees gave honey and the chickens gave the fresh eggs a family of nine needed. The rabbits were pets and the goats gave milk. Behind our house and yard is an apple orchard where we ‘pick our own’. Yes, blessed.

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I don’t consider myself an excellent cook, but I’ll gladly share a few recipes I’ve discovered from the Farmers’ Markets or made with foods from the there. Please note I say ‘to your own preference or taste’. I’m an experimental cook; sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Food is all about what *you* prefer or your taste buds, so modify these to your own choice and preference. Visit a local Farmers Market and support a small farmer. They will thank you and so will your taste buds and body.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

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Vegetables (your choice, your favorites) cut into chunks (keep in mind big chunks roast slower and often ‘burn’ before the middle is tender; small chunks roast faster and need less time)

Olive oil (I could put an amount, but really, it’s preference

Spices (I use fresh ground garlic, thyme and oregano)

Roasting pan (I use a ‘cookie sheet’) lined with foil or parchment paper

1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees (sorry I don’t know UK equals. What you roast meat at). I’ve found this to be the ideal temp; any higher tends to burn the veggies before they are tender.

2. Cut vegetables and toss with olive oil. Make sure all are evenly covered in the oil (not ‘dripping, but wet).

3. Place vegetables on the pan. I put ‘hard’ vegetables like beets and potatoes together and ‘tender’ ones like peppers and mushrooms together. Make sure they are spread out, not overlapping and the pan is covered.

4. Sprinkle with spices. (As a note, roasted beets sprinkled with just thyme and ginger are omg good).

5. Roast until tender. This will vary according to your oven, if it’s raining outside, etc. Figure for tender vegetables about 10-15 minutes and 30-45 for harder vegetables.

6. Let cool 5 minutes and dig in. These also freeze well and will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.

See? Easy.

MARILYN’S SAUCE

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Your Favorite Kind of Apples (she also uses ginger golds or red delicious; I use golden delicious). If using the slow cooker as I do, I find 8-10 medium to large apples is enough.

Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger (It’s to taste and what you like)

Water (again, preference; she adds 1/2 cup for ‘thinner’ sauce. I don’t for thicker sauce)

1. Peel apples if desired and cut into bite sized chunks.

2. Place in slow cooker (I spray mine first with cooking spray or rub it with olive oil so apples don’t stick).

3. Sprinkle on spices and let cook on low 6-8 hours. I don’t recommend high because to me the apples taste ‘burned’. Your house will smell INCREDIBLE.

4. Remove and blender away chunks you don’t want. The apples should be tender and usually ‘melt’ but some harder types may not. I don’t mind the chunks but if you do, blender.

5. Enjoy! I love this over warm gingerbread. Also makes a great topper to baked potatoes or roasted pork.

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Stir with a cinnamon and mmm mmm

 

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Mia Epsilon is a dedicated Farmers Market shopper and swears the taste difference between something local and something shipped in can be tasted by any dedicated tongue. She no longer has the ‘family farm and zoo’; but still enjoys growing many of her own fruits and vegetables. She lives in the gorgeous and fruitful area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, commonly called the Appalachian area.

Mia is the author of Wedding Belle Blues, a contemporary romantic comedy released in June of 2014 and Leave Your Hat On, a short story available as part of a limited hard cover edition of tales inspired by the classic story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Also look for the second and third books in the ‘Weddings by C & C series’ Take a Chance on Me and That Night coming Fall 2014.

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Debut Author: Mia Epsilon

From Christina: Today I’d like to welcome Mia Epsilon to Time for Love. She’s recently released Wedding Belle Blues, a delicious romance novel.  She’s here today to talk a bit about writing and becoming a published author.

AS ESSENTIAL AS BREATHING

 

Writing is as essential to me as breathing. Sometimes it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it. Sometimes it’s like having broncritis and every word, like every breath, is a struggle. Being a published writer is a long held dream come true. And it’s a long road.

nanowrimo_calendar___2013_by_spooneh21-d6ooljkFor Wedding Belle Blues, several friends on Face Book gently (read that as ‘you do this or we’re coming after you’) encouraged me to participate in NaNo. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a group to encourage writers to complete at least 50,000 words in a month, usually in November. I’ve tried NaNo before and failed miserably with dozens of excuses and reasons, some of them valid. 2013 NaNo was different though: I receive a newsletter from Breathless Press and they offered a 5 page critique of your NaNo efforts. So the FB friends and I made each other post every day how many words we wrote, what the plot was, etc I decided to send in my first five pages for the critique and less than a day later received it back. The BP editor made some wonderfully valid points, gave encouraging comments, and asked to see the entire manuscript once finished. So I had another reason to keep writing the novel.

Anna and Robin whole heartedly jumped on the wild thirty day NaNo ride with me. They told me their story, what they said, what they did, and all I had to do was type it in the computer. That’s all. Every night after ‘real’ work I dutifully typed. When November ended, I had 58,000 words to send to the BP editor. But… It was Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and winter so the finished manuscript simply sat patiently on my hard drive. My husband asked me one day why I waited. With sweat, prayers and shaking fingers, I sent Anna and Robin off to hopefully charm the BP editor named Jen Bradlee. This was late February, a Saturday. Jen sent back an email five days later saying she loved it and BP wanted to publish it. Yes, that was me the world heard jumping up and down screaming. Hubby and I reviewed the contract word by word, I signed four days later, and began the edit rounds.

Let me say Editors have a hard job. They get blamed for being tough and not knowing ‘good’ stuff. But a good editor makes the writer better. I got blessed with an extremely good editor. Not only does she help me improve my writing, she pushes me to go beyond what I think I can do and how I can write. Take, for example, how she highlighted the word ‘she’ in a paragraph (I used it eight times), told me to change some of them, and not just to Anna’s name. I struggled with that paragraph for three hours. When I returned it, with only two ‘she’ in it, all the sentences were stronger. The paragraph was stronger and so was the chapter. She made me better by challenging me. Sure, I muttered some probably not nice things but I’m so glad she pushes me. She believes in me. That’s the best thing any writer can ask for in an Editor.

Then came Cover Art requests and more edits and line edits and promo and a whirlwind of helping find readers for Anna and Robin’s story who will love them almost as much as I do. Oh, and Jen’s request for more submissions and setting up Good Reads, Amazon, Face Book, Twitter, all the things to get Wedding Belle Blues out there to be read. Breathless Press is amazing to work for; everyone is eager to help in the ‘business end’ of writing.

Because writing IS a business; we writers sometimes forget it’s a job like any other, easy at times, hard at others and always, always subjective. Not everyone will like your work; not everyone has to like it. Writing is as essential to me as breathing.

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Mia Epsilon lives with her enduring soul mate hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA. She’s an avid reader of almost anything but particularly romance, a never-miss-an-episode viewer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, and happily suffers a coffee and chocolate addiction. She can most often be found at her computer, spinning new stories, or in a quiet padded nook with her e reader. Look for more stories in the ‘Weddings by C & C’ line including ‘That Night’ featuring more of Anna & Robin and ‘Take a Chance on Me’, Christine and Charlie’s story.