Spring is here! Today is Maine Maple Sunday which means there are about ninety sugar houses throughout Maine that are open to the public. We went to Merrifield Farm in Gorham which is like a maple syrup paradise where we sampled maple syrup over vanilla ice cream and watched maple syrup being processed.
Two years ago in the early spring I blogged about buying beautiful pullet eggs (shown above) from a local organic farm in my town. Off-season we’ve been buying “Certified Humane” Nellie’s “Free Range” eggs. I decided to Google Nellie’s just now and am so disheartened to see this report about the cruel conditions of the chickens. I will never purchase Nellie’s eggs or trust the “Certified Humane” label on eggs again! (Update: check out this link “American Humane Scam” featuring Bob Barker!) It can be so hard to make informed food choices when we can’t even trust the “certification” labels! All the more reason to buy from trustworthy sources when the trustworthiness can be verified by you. Of course if you can realistically, affordably and humanely raise your own, that is ideal!
Thanks to the Maine Rebekahs, whom I consider to be some of the greatest New England home cooks who have also provided almost 100 years of recipes, you can make a winning, traditional New England fish chowder. I’ve adapted this simple, frugal 1920s recipe to make it meat-free since New England fish chowders almost always contain pork in addition to seafood. Wayne said that he wouldn’t have noticed its absence based upon how flavorful this is. Truly it’s so easy to make yet it will produce a chowder that will make you feel like a seasoned New England cook.
“A fear of disagreeable facts, and conscious shrinking from clearness of light, which keep us from examining ourselves, increases gradually into a species of instinctive terror at all truth, and love of glosses, veils and decorative lies of every sort.”
John Ruskin, 1887
Happy Shrove Tuesday! I love pancakes and have many of my own recipes, but this morning I decided to try a new-to-me vintage recipe for blueberry pancakes. I made a large stack so that I was able to sample “some” now and then reheat the rest for our dinner tonight. (Did you know you can reheat pancakes in the oven?) They are delicious and of course made with simple, wholesome ingredients.
It was in the 1980s during my undergrad years at University of Maine in Orono when I had a memorable lunch at a “non-traditional” classmate’s house. We had been assigned to a small group to work on a project, the specifics of which I don’t recall. What I do remember is that the classmate who was hosting us was in her forties and had just finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with her partner which I really admired. She served us a very simple brothy bean soup that was completely vegan. It was one of the most flavorful yet basic soups I had ever had. I learned that good, filling food doesn’t have to be complex and can be affordable, even for starving students. (Admittedly that may have added to the flavor!) In any case, I still love a simple bean soup, and here is a personal recipe:
I’ve been knocked out with a bad cold and sadly had to cancel some of my social festivities. Even though I should be getting plenty of bed rest I take great joy in baking, especially Christmastime and am not willing to forgo it. I’ve never made a gluten-free shortbread until yesterday and boy are these good and so simple to make! I wasn’t sure how they would turn out since I used only gluten-free flours and true to a shortbread formula, there are no eggs which gluten-free baking often requires. You don’t even have to dip them in chocolate if you want a super quick to prepare recipe that you can easily make in time for Christmas.
Wayne and I will be having a cozy Christmas dinner for two. Every year I’ve made a standing bone-in rib roast but this will be the first year that I’ll be serving Yorkshire pudding made with meat drippings, yum! Here’s my recipe for Yorkshire pudding prepared with oat flour, tapioca and peanut oil (so meat drippings are optional) that tastes divine.
If you’re not from Maine, you might think the above photo is of a homemade Mounds candy bar. You’re close! But you’d probably be shocked to learn that they contain mashed potatoes in the coconut centers! They are a delicious traditional Maine candy called “Needhams” which have also historically been called “potato candy” or “potato fudge”. However, if you are from Maine and familiar with Needhams you may be surprised to discover that the modern version has gone far astray from yesterday’s healthier and more wholesome homemade versions dating as far back as 1924.
Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)