A Simple, Frugal Recipe: Navy Bean Soup

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:

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The New England Diet

The photo of me above on the left is from 2009, before I lost 10% of my body weight in 2010 by following a 1950s diet that I documented in my book American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s. The photo on the right was me at my wedding in 2018. Since 2013 I’ve been reading diet books, articles and cook books from the 19th century through World War II, many of which are New England sources. I’ve maintained my weight loss and continue to have very healthy cholesterol levels by eating a traditional New England diet. And so, I have an announcement!

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Christmas Cookie Recipe: Chocolate Dipped Almond Oat Shortbread

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.

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Vintage Inspired Recipe: Old-Fashioned Maine Needhams Potato Candy

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.

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Thanksgiving Recipe: Traditional New England Indian Pudding

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!)

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Vintage Maine Recipe: Banana Fritters

This simple circa 1930s recipe for banana fritters was inspired by Ms. Ann Knight’s version in The Fellowship Cook Book by Members and Friends of The Second Congregational Church in Norway, Maine. These fritters are sweet with a smooth texture and best eaten piping hot from the skillet. They have no refined sugars other than the optional dusting of powdered sugar for presentation.

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Autumn Recipe: Deep Dish Cortland Apple Pie

Wayne recently started a new job so our New England autumnal honeymoon is relegated to the weekends. I wanted to surprise him with something special after work. I knew he was dreading dinner somewhat because I was going to make the farmer’s market kale as a side dish. He hates kale but promised he’d give it a try, and only if I “cooked the **** out of it” and added loads of butter. What I didn’t tell him was that I was setting a special autumn themed table in the sunroom and serving rib eye steak and deep dish apple pie along with said sad kale.

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Wayne: How I Lost Weight and Regained My Health

Averyl asked me if I was willing to share what my daily diet used to look like and how it is today along with my “before” pic on her blog. I cut alcohol out of my diet when I got sober almost six years ago. I admit that I’m shy when it comes to talking about myself like this but she pointed out that it can help inspire others.

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Recipe: Maine Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

For this recipe I initially picked three different pumpkin pie recipes from my vintage Maine cookbooks and created my own adaptation inspired by selections from each. Next, I baked a total of four test pies, each tinkered with to improve upon the previous pie. I guess we’ll be eating pie for a while but fortunately they can be frozen!

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