While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.
This simple, wholesome recipe for New England Brown Betty is made with a handful of ingredients and is adapted from my 1936 copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It’s a good way to make use of stale bread, too, which I happened to have handy. Speaking of handy things, I also made my first-ever batch of 100% hand whipped cream with my new rotary beater! It wasn’t difficult at all!
After months of denying rumors that she would seek the top of the Republican ticket or the vice presidential nomination, inspirational Mainer Senator Margaret Chase Smith announced her run for President in January, 1964.
“I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish,” she noted, “When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”
Although she wasn’t elected, Mrs. Smith was the first woman to have her name put in for nomination for the presidency by a major political party. She also created a winning Maine classic: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake. This delightful recipe is from an undated vintage very well-loved pamphlet in my collection, “Maine Blueberry Recipes…” Seventh Edition, Published by The Maine Department of Agriculture.
July 4th used to be a frosted holiday for me meaning that it was about consuming artificially colored overly sweetened highly processed “patriotic” red, white and blue cupcakes on display at the grocery bakery. You know the ones of which I speak that seem to be everywhere this time of year? I used to think I was treating myself by eating them even though I felt awful afterward. That’s so yesterday but definitely not eating retro. Now I make ice cream from scratch with wild Maine blueberries or rich red strawberries that we picked locally and pure heavy cream from the local dairy that doesn’t add gums. Here’s my recipe for 1.5 quarts of strawberry or blueberry-infused ice cream:
It wasn’t until I had immersed myself in Depression-Era and WWI cook books in 2015 that I developed the “courage” to create simple dishes with quality ingredients that fall out of range of preconceived ideas of good taste. Good home cooking to me has evolved to mean honest, sometimes quirky, unpretentious fare that takes the pressure off to audition for a show on the Food Network. This humble dish may not be Instagram-worthy, but so what?! It was a wholesome, healthy, thrifty delicious dinner made from food that in the past would have been discarded.
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.
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.