Ingredients await cutting on the kitchen table at Mount Apatite Farm on Hatch Road in Auburn on March 22, 2019 Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

AUBURN — While spring has technically begun, Mount Apatite Farm still sits atop a snowy hill. Its 24 acres remain covered with frost and its abundant bouquets of summer flowers have yet to bloom. For Carol Segal, or Cookin Carol as her customers know her, another busy season approaches after having kept the vibrancy of the farm and her business alive during the cold months from inside her farmhouse and warm kitchen.

Carol Segal (Cookin Carol) at her kitchen table at Mount Apatite Farm on Hatch Road in Auburn on March 22, 2019. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

The Sun Journal last caught up with Segal in the summer of 2012. She was growing diverse greens in her garden with the help of co-op members who tended her two-acre garden in exchange for fresh produce. A cook for more than 40 years and living and working at her Mount Apatite Farm for almost 20, Segal was already long known for her presence at the Lewiston Farmers’ Market winter and summer, where she had developed many regular customers desiring her produce, baked goods and more, flowing from her kitchen and gardens.

Since then, Segal’s growing catering business has also amassed a following. She now frequently caters weddings, rehearsal dinners and large events. Favorite dishes of her catering customers include brie wrapped in puff pastry, Australian sausage rolls and chocolate zucchini bread.

Customers can choose items from her catering menu or ask Segal to create specific dishes and spreads to their liking. She enjoys the variety presented by each catering gig and revels in designing dishes and configurations of meals for her customers. “Every time I do something it’s different. I modify everything,” except baked goods, “where you have to use a recipe,” Segal said.

Once the warmer weather hits, Segal will be returning to the Lewiston Farmers’ Market summer site at the corner of Lincoln and Main streets, bringing fresh vegetables like kale, eggplant and peppers, a baked good or two and bouquets of fresh flowers. “The flower bouquets are a good seller at the farmers’ market and I offer wedding flowers when I (cater) weddings,” Segal said.

Segal has blended her farmers’ market presence with her food creation talents in a unique way, sending out a “freezer list” to customers via her emailed newsletter before each farmers’ market to gauge interest in foods, meals and ingredients she can prepare beforehand using garden produce she has frozen fresh-picked. “If anyone orders, I can bring their food to the market.”

Market days during the summer are long for Segal because she usually runs the farm by herself. The gardening co-op she once ran is no longer functioning, though she does take on summer interns and apprentices for extra help.

Root vegetable soup simmers on the stove at Mount Apatite Farm in Auburn earlier this month. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

In preparation for market weekends, Segal works from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. some days. “It’s fun, even if it’s hard work,” she said. When she gets the chance, she enjoys leisurely tending to her garden. “On Saturday morning, that’s my harvest day, so I can just go out barefoot and cut flowers for the morning, and arrange them.”

There’s even more to Mount Apatite Farm than catering, produce and flowers. The farm has a quarry and during warm weather, at certain times, Segal opens the farm and for 10 dollars an adult (kids are free) the public can enjoy mining the quarry. Segal also hosts educational geology programming for local students and has other kid-friendly programming in the works. She is looking forward to a busy season that includes children’s tea parties in the Mount Apatite Wee Little Kiwi House, garden tours and yoga classes.

All of Cookin Carol’s sales are at the farmers’ markets. There is no store at the farm and no open hours. For more on the farm and farm programs, go to her website at www.cookincarol.com or call her at 207-650-1573.

During the winter off-season, Segal has time to relax, shuck dry beans from her garden and make jams. “I have no set schedule except market days and when I’m catering events,” she said. (The winter Lewiston Farmers’ Market runs from about mid-October through February, Sundays, at the Lewiston YWCA.)

With growing season and another summer of farmers’ markets approaching, Segal will start planting immediately once the snow melts, and will begin with peas, radishes and kale. “Anything that can withstand the frost, you can plant early,” she said.

But fans of Segal’s cooking won’t have to wait until summer or a catered event for a taste of her dishes in 2019: She’s baking garlic bread for the Lewiston Farmers’ Market Spaghetti (Squash) Dinner and fundraiser on April 7 at the Lewiston YWCA.

Vegan chocolate pie

Crust:

1 cup walnuts

1 1/2 cups Grape-Nuts cereal or similar cereal

1 cup dates

1 cup water

Puree walnuts and Grape-Nuts in food processor to semi-fine consistency. Put into mixing bowl. Put dates in the water, heat on high until water boils, turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree dates in food processor until smooth.

Mix all together, press down into deep-dish pie plate. Makes enough to cover bottom and sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until crust starts to brown. Chill

Filling:

1 cup unsalted raw cashews

1 tablespoon Earth Balance coconut spread

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Puree that together in a food processor until smooth

Add:

2 packages Silken tofu

12 ounces organic dark chocolate (melted)

Puree together until thick and smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup if needed. Pour into chilled pie crust. I like to garnish with grated semi-sweet chocolate.

Garbanzo bean salad

When you’re in a hurry, bean salads are a good way to get some protein. You can mix any kind of beans together. They make a great topping for salad greens or on a bed of rice. Try to use organic or non-GMO.

2 cans garbanzo beans (chick peas)

1 10- or 12-ounce can diced tomatoes

or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

3 scallions, chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1/2 small red onion, diced

3 tablespoons Nelly’s key lemon or lime juice

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Add grated lemon peel or Fiore balsamic vinegar to taste

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