Last weekend was the kind of weekend I like best—one filled with food, family, and friends. (Yes, I know. Many of my weekends are filled this way.) To add to the mix, there was also an environmental event on Saturday, and I am as keen about the environment as I am about food. After all, the two are inextricably twined.
On Friday, we met our friends Alice Rohman and Roger Carpentter at the Café de Bangkok in Hallowell. While the food was good, the view was even better. The restaurant sits right next to the Kennebec River, and we were lucky enough to get window seats and watch as night settled over the river. At one point, the light was dark gray, giving the narrow river a moody, even British look. Inside, we discussed books, politics, and movies, but we were very much aware of the river, just outside, and the gathering darkness.
On Saturday, our friend Diane Friese invited Clif and I to her house in Brunswick for lunch. Our daughter Shannon and her fiancé Mike were also invited. We always make this trip with a merry heart, as we know that delectable food will be waiting for us. This time was no exception. The centerpiece was a creamy squash soup, slightly sweet and pleasingly thick. (I am hoping she will give me the recipe.) After the soup came coleslaw, curried vegetables, and a simmered sweet potato and apple mixture. What else could follow this but cookies and tea, always a satisfying ending?
With full stomachs, we walked in the rain to Bowdoin College, about five minutes from Diane’s house. On campus was a 350 event, one of many around the world to be held that day to bring attention to climate change and to how many parts per million of carbon dioxide there should be in the atmosphere—350, of course. (Right now, we are at about 387 and rising.) The rain undoubtedly kept many people away, but since the event was held indoors, this was probably just as well. The room was pretty crowded, and when we formed a “human” 350 so that a picture could be taken, there wasn’t much space to move. Governor Baldacci and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud were there as well as quite a few veterans to offer their perspective. This gave the event a twist that I haven’t often seen at environmental gatherings. That is, climate change is also a security issue for the United States. Our reliance on fossil fuels, one of the prime causes of climate change, also makes us vulnerable to countries that don’t always have our best interests at heart. Also, the weather disruptions will cause famines and migrations, and, as one veteran put it, our military will have to be there to hand out food and water and to help keep some kind of order. I hope these veterans speak up at various events around the state and the country. Many of them have served in Iraq, and they bring real heft to the promotion of alternative energy, one that can’t be easily dismissed by the not-in-my-backyard contingency.
On Sunday morning, we went to Jill Lectka’s house for brunch. We became friends with Jill in a rather unusual way. Our eldest daughter, Dee, moved to New York City when she graduated from college. Her first job was with Macmillan Library Reference, and Jill was Dee’s boss. One day, a few years ago, Dee called and asked, “Guess where my boss Jill is moving?” Naturally, I couldn’t guess. “To Waterville, Maine.” Waterville, Maine? From New York City? Why? “She’s going to work for Thorndike Press in Waterville.” Thorndike, like Macmillan, is owned by Gale, so it made a strange kind of sense. But still. A very, very small world. As it turned out, Jill moved to Hallowell, Maine, and she has become good friends with our family, even spending Thanksgiving with us.
On Sunday, the weather was warm enough to have drinks—mimosas—on Jill’s porch, which is nearly two stories up and gives the impression of being above the trees. A sort of bird’s eye view. Then in we went for a rich egg casserole she had made. After drinking—we moved on to coffee and tea—and eating until about 2 P. M., we felt very lazy indeed and reluctant to leave. But leave we did, heading home to the dog who had been left alone this weekend far too much for his liking.
(This recipe came from Jill’s mother, who passed away several years ago. The recipe was handwritten by her mother, and each time Jill makes this dish, she feels a connection—via the handwriting—to her mother.)
½ cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 pint of small curd cottage cheese
1 pound of jack cheese, shredded
1 stick of butter, softened
2 four-ounce cans chopped chilies
Beat eggs until light. Combine flour with baking powder and salt. Add to eggs. Add remaining ingredients. Bake in buttered 9 x 13 pan at 350ºF for 35 minutes. Serves ten.