Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sigrid Howe

Arrowsik, Maine

Becoming a mother is challenging. Without hesitation your life is placed on hold and focus is given entirely to the needs of another being. My inspiration was partially born out of unhealthy jealously toward childless peers who still have time to drink cocktails on a Tuesday night and drop hundreds of dollars on dinner whenever the whim hits them. Positively fueled by these green eyes I decided to create a space where I can be creative and feature women who inspire me in the food and agricultural industries. They are smart, creative, stylish, and kind.

I knew that my first post would be on my dear sweet old friend Siggy Howe. We grew up down the road from each other at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine and spent many days walking the dirt road between our houses to bake and get into trouble (believe it or not there was plenty).   Looking back, our experiences at the Loaf represent a different time than we will raise our own kids. I have fond memories of hitchhiking up the access road in ski boots and sledding down under the chairlift at night. Siggy’s family is creative and original. She and her brothers have always represented inspiring people in my life. She is my chosen sister.

It seems fitting that our lives have moved in parallel directions with both of us working in the food industry and now mothers of small children. Our daily text messages range in topics from “Should my winter 2013/14 look be Goth mom?” to “what type of cheese should I add to this gouchere recipe?” While living in San Francisco we worked together at Tartine Bakery inspired by Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson. Siggy now bakes for a variety of restaurants in Maine and lives off the grid on an island in Sheepscot Bay with her family. She is in the process of starting her own bread company where she plans to sell wholesale hand-shaped baguettes to her region.

During a cold day in early January after the hype of the holidays she baked biscuits at her mother’s house in Brunswick.  We had hoped to cook and take pictures of her home but bad roads and nap times made it difficult. Her family is of Swedish decent so the house is filled with light, lots of white, and bright vibrant colors. It has always represented a happy place to me. I have added a few pictures she sent me of her home and her recent visit to California.

Where do you find inspiration?
My cooking inspiration comes from family. On my mom’s side when everyone gets together all the ladies naturally seem to congregate in the kitchen with a 1950’s mentality. But it is nice because it all comes together and no one assumes a role or responsibility. It represents the idea of producing something for those that you love. So when everyone comes together it just happens. It is always tasty and everyone always participates. That is how I think food should be.

What items are always in your fridge or pantry?
At the moment I literally have mustard and placenta encapsulated pills…..I always have Braggs Apple cider vinegar, lemon, olive oil, and oatmeal in the house.

Describe your cooking style?
Living in Maine it is dictated by what is available. Right now I do stews, roasts, and generally hearty foods. I am making carnitas this week. In the summer it is a lot fresher. My food generally has raw and acidic components.

What was your best most recent meal?
For our anniversary we went up to Rockland in early December to this great restaurant Primo where they raise a lot of their own pigs and grow their own veggies. Once a year they celebrate the slaughter and do a six or seven course snout to tail dinner, including dessert. It was every piece that you could imagine. There was an amazing heart crostini and a prosciutto gelato at the end that I really loved. Every time that we go it is amazing. 

Describe your personal style?
I am trying to add more classically tailored pieces as I get older but I would say teen angst punk rock/ Venetian gondolier/ pirate/ LA rocker mom or anything I can breast-feed in right now.

What is your decorative style?
Fortunately we have people in our lives with fabulous style. We have a lot of stuff from my grandma  on my dad's side that is Danish Modern. We have a beautiful rosewood table and an amazing dining room set. From my grandparents on the other side we have a lot of Swedish copper and Swedish side tables. When we moved into our house there was a cool couch made from a John Deere tractor. Art wise it is stuff that people made for us which tends to be brightly colored and a little more modern. Maybe you could hashtag Bjorn Copeland?

What is your favorite spot in your house?
My favorite spot in the house is the cupola. The house was designed like a yurt with a Russian stove in the middle radiating heat throughout the house. The cupola is on top of the stove so it is always toasty from the warm bricks. There are windows almost 360 degrees around it. It looks out over the garden, woods, and our chicken coop. It has this really cool tin ceiling that was salvaged from an old house that was torn down. It is also fun because my husband is too tall to stand up in it so it is my room. I am making it a lady’s area for my daughter and me. It is bright, cheery and comfy.

Tell me about your new business?
We have a pottery studio on our property crying out for a proper bakery. The plan is to do wholesale artisanal bread for mid-coast Maine. The bakery would be close to the house so the kids could be there while I bake. We hope to integrate a CSB (Community Supported Bakery) where we could deliver bread to people on the islands at a discount. We thought this business could nurture us and the community.

I really enjoy making baguettes and have a romantic notion of making hundreds a day for people. I also like the idea that there is a very narrow time frame for consuming them. Traditionally you are supposed to eat baguettes within three hours of baking and so people would potentially want to buy them every day. There is also a romantic feeling when people buy a baguette and it sticks out of their bag on the way home.

Where do you see the food industry moving in the future?
There was this great article about Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth on how bands no longer release records but put out singles instead. This has become the way that we consume music. It is a less personal experience than records were. In the past there was the experience of going out to buy a 7-inch and someone had hand-drawn the cover. There is certainly a movement back to this but more as a collector's item. She saw food as the next step as we are still consuming it. It is how people are expressing themselves by love, respect. creativity, or science. I like the idea that food is a tangible extension of us, especially with bread as you birth it daily.

I will share more details on the bakery's development as they become available.



  1. I LOVE this blog!!! The whole thing. The photos, the stories, the layout. Keep it coming!!!!

  2. Siggy! Is this good old Siggy Copeland?!?! Email me at devin.beliveau@gmail.com!!!