Monday, October 18, 2010

The Simple Life

Lives today can certainly be complicated with packed schedules, constant connections, and the stress of everyday survival. Do you ever wonder what it would be like to turn off all the distractions and return to a simpler lifestyle? To stop and hear the quiet hum of nature and the stillness from within? Two years ago, Matt and Angela Kuncaitis certainly had these questions, and they moved their family to the Maple Valley Farm in Coral for an off-grid life: that means no electricity, no running water, growing and raising your food... And they couldn't be more pleased.

Fortunately, the Kuncaitis Family opens their doors to the rest of us to experience their unique home. Kelly and I enjoyed the hospitality of Maple Valley last week with an incredibly enjoyable visit. After some twist and turns and inaccurate GPS directions (TomTom sent us to the middle of a field), we found ourselves pulling up to a serene farm house complete with chickens in the yard and a deer coming to greet us. Yes, a deer named Betty by the Kuncaitis' six (fabulously adorable and perfectly helpful) kids.

Angie was finishing a farm-fresh cheese making demonstration to five visiting ladies when we entered the charming home. One women, who was staying at the Maple Valley Cottage, came all the way from Kentucky! We were soon joined by another group and were taken on a hayride tour of the farm's 40 acres with unofficial tour guides Penny and Peter spilling the family gossip and giving us the inside scoop on off-grid life. Meanwhile, Matt shared wisdom and insight to living on a farm. When asked how they learned to farm in the two short years since they've made the drastic lifestyle change, he laughed saying, "We have learned a lot from our failures and successes."

By the time Marge and Jim the Belgium horses pulled around to the house again, we had learned of son Buddy's 11" bluegill from the pond, which cow was Peter's, and where Penny's homemade tee pee was hiding in the woods. Lunch was also ready.

There is something absolutely delightful about lunch on a farm. About 90% of our meal was grown and raised on the property, and it was fabulously fresh, from the salad greens with heirloom tomatoes and fresh baked bread to the herbed quail and baked butternut squash. Angie had prepared everything using their wood-fire stove.

As I enjoyed a cup of cider and the first of two pumpkin cupcakes, Angie began the afternoon's soap making class. All the women began taking careful notes, and you could see the wheels turning in the heads as thoughts of giving fabulous homemade Christmas presents began floating through their heads. We each were given a gift bag with two soap samples made on the farm, and everyone chatted about the things they could put in their own soaps, from scented lavender to exfoliating oatmeal and poppy seeds.

Kelly and I eventually returned the office, feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I would encourage anyone in need of a break from routine to visit Maple Valley. They have regular classes and events, a charming store with locally produced products, and, of course, the Maple Valley Off-Grid Cottage. In fact (drum roll please), we're pleased to be giving away a one-night stay package on the farm!

The Bedstead and Brunch Package for Two:
Check in to your private Maple Cottage at 4 pm and enjoy a hayride tour with Marge and Jim (the horses). Wake up and come down to the farm house for an all-you-can-eat family-style breakfast at 8:30 am. You will not leave hungry!

Want to win? Tell us what your favorite fall harvest dish is in a comment here or on our Facebook page. We'll pick a winner on Friday, October 22.

Thank you again to Matt and Angela for their hospitality, and be sure to check out the Maple Valley Off-Grid blog.

High five,

-Shannon

42 comments:

Melody said...

Favorite fall dish would have to be sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash...I refuse to make it until the squash are in season but its a tradition in our house.

Elizabeth said...

Im not sure if I can pick! I love plain old sweet potato casserole with nuts and brown sugar :D

Tasha Posey said...

I would have to say my favorite fall dish is acorn squash. Nothing fancy, just baked, with a little butter and brown sugar, and all it's earthy goodness.
~ Tasha

Melissa said...

My favorite fall dish is apple crisp. YUMMY! I also love to dehydrate apples to eat throughout the winter.

Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

Apple Pie!!

Kim said...

Peacon pie is my fav.

Renee said...

My favorite is the homemade tomato soup that we spent the summer canning! You will NEVER enjoy store bought tomato soup after eating it.

Abbey said...

My favorite would have to be baked acorn squash, or homemade applesauce. YUM!

Joe and Jeannie Family said...

Fave fall dish is butternut squash and apples - yumm. Hoping we win!

Jen said...

Venison goulash made with home canned tomato juice and noodles from the local Amish grocery store.

Amy said...

My family loves our Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and Cookies. It's easy enough that the kids love to help bake them. It's a must have during the fallish season!

Diane said...

My fall favorites are home made applesauce and pumpkin pie from the pumpkins I grew.

Diane said...

My fall favorites are home made applesauce and pumpkin pie from the pumkins I grow.

Kim said...

Potato soup with cornbread, blackberry cobbler topped with yummy vanilla bean ice cream for sure!

Kim in Kentucky

Angelica George said...

We love to have roasted acorn squash topped arugula salad, individual boneless skinless chicken breasts stuffed with homemade apple cornbread stuffing and sweet potato casserole. Also I like to make a quick spaghetti squash side dish. Steam/Boil squash and add parmesan cheese, garlic and butter. It shreds up just like spaghetti but tastes a million times better. Some of the many reasons we love the fall.

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LoriSm said...

My favorite Fall dish would have to be homemade chicken and noodles, made from a freshly butchered chicken, with noodles made from freshly laid eggs and unbleached flour....simmered in a rich broth full of carrots, onions, and celery. You can't have chicken and noodles without mashed potatoes (already harvested from the garden) made with golden raw butter and rich, raw milk, with a side of green beans from the garden (fresh if the garden is still producing, canned, if not) cooked with chopped onions (from the garden), and bacon fried crisp and crumbled over the top with a dollop of butter, and homemade buttermilk biscuits swimming in more butter. Dessert would be apple pie or apple crisp from new apples recently picked. Oh yeah, it doesn't get any homier than that on a cool, crisp Fall day! It is my children's favorite meal and one I love to make when the weather cools in the Fall months.

Alla said...

I don't know which dish would be my favorite. Acorn squash baked with butter and maple syrup on top or fresh apple pie with crumb topping. I really like both of them.

Anonymous said...

pumpkin pie
Lynne from MD

Jenna said...

My favorite fall dish would have to be either Pumpkin or Apple pie...yum:)

Winning this giveaway would be such a blessing ~ my parents could use some peace and quiet together in the beautifully charming off-grid cottage!

THANK YOU for the entry!
Jenna

april ausdenmoore said...

Oh, Sweet potato casserole and pumkin bread are some of our favorites.

Anonymous said...

Nothing says fall like homemade potatoe soup. Nanci Kuyers

jami russell said...

My favorite fall dish is a home-grown chuck roast with homemade noodles, a healthy heap of garlic mashed potatoes, and some acorn squash on the side!
A second close is homemade chicken and dumplings (from a homegrown chicken, of course!). Millet Squash casserole is also great.
I LOVE fall foods! Jami R.
mama_2_sammie_n_haley@yahoo.com

Regan Family Farm said...

A.M. Cinnamon rolls
P.M. Apple pie!

A.Linda said...

Oh boy!....home-made chicken noodle soup (home-made noodles, too!) with home-made flax seed bread and apple crisp!

An 8th generation Floridian said...

Oyster Stew! Any month with an "R" in it is open season for fresh oysters. What can I say, I'm from the south...

Tamara (AK) said...

My mother's apple pie (from my grandmother's recipe) - nothing else compares! Vermont sharp cheddar cheese along and homemade vanilla ice cream along side!

Alice said...

My absolute favorite fall dish is a dessert made my special way--Apple Crisp!

Alice

knittykneighbour said...

I have a favourite 2! My first is just plain ole apple pie with home made crust- right from the oven. My second is a bread that I call harvest bread. It's filled with pumpkin, nuts, & cranberries. YUM!
~Heidi

Harvest Moon said...

Prairie Pot roat with apple walnut stuffing and mushroom gravy. Side of Mashed sweet potatoes. Apple pie ala mode for dessert.

Suzanne Fedewa said...

I love pumpkin bars with chocolate chips sprinkled inside and cream cheese frosting. I roast the pumpkin seeds too, so I can get a bit of that sweet and salty combination that goes so well together!

dolphinlovermom said...

Anything with pumpkin but my favorite would have to be pumpkin pie.

amplace said...

My favorites are potato leek soup and sweet potato casserole. They're both delicious.

Jason and Erin said...

Acorn squash!

the vrugginks said...

my grandpa's famous white chili topped with montery jack cheese & sour cream...yum!!

Anonymous said...

these blogs are excellent! what a great inside perspective to something so wonderful offered right in west michigan. you girls need to keep doing more of these blogs which really highlight your members on the personal level which their generosity deserves. spectacular! way to spread the word WMTA! keep posting.

Cindy said...

My new favorite is Butternut Squash Apple Bisque, Yum!

Sherry in MI said...

My favorite fall dish is roasted duck with a side dish of butternut squash soup. I used to order this on our anniversary at the old Gibson's restaurant in Grand Rapids. Loved it!

Casebolt said...

Hands down, homemade applesauce!

Keeping Up with The Joneses said...

I LOVE any soup in the fall! The old faves to new ones.

Farmhouse Blessings said...

My favorite fall dish is a sweet potato dish with brown sugar and pecans, or pumkin muffins fresh from the oven, or hot spiced cider ... oh do I have to pick just one!

Lea

Noelle said...

I have so many fall dishes I like but my NEW favorite are the Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls that I made last week. SO good and perfect for this time of year!