Category Archives: Food

A Sunny Gift on a Cold Day

Normally, I don’t post two pieces on my blog in the same day, but I just received a box of these beauties from my blogging friend, Betsy, all the way from sunny California. So today I am making an exception.

Holy cats, this gift of oranges and lemons made my day! Many, many thanks, Betsy, for  your wonderful generosity. Oh, how beautiful they are.

And to think they grew in Betsy’s own backyard. While I love living in Maine, I have to admit that I would be thrilled beyond description to actually be able to pick oranges in my backyard.

Again, Betsy, thanks so much!

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Apple Crisp to Go

Last weekend was the time for taking down the Christmas decorations.  We did it on Saturday, January 5, which by some reckonings is Twelfth Night. (Others put Twelfth Night on January 6. We don’t have strong feelings about this and are willing to keep an open mind.)

It always makes me a little sad to take down the decorations and to put the tree away. I miss the the ornaments—some fanciful, some homespun, some lovely—and the soft glow of the lights.  Here they are, all packed away. Farewell, my sweets, until next December.

But I really didn’t have time to brood because after the decorations were put away, it was on to the next project—apple crisp, which we brought to our friends Judy and Paul.

We took it hot out of the oven, hence the towel and pan, and at Judy and Paul’s house, the crisp was still warm enough to melt ice cream when it was served. Somehow, apple crisp is such a cozy, satisfying dessert in the winter. Best of all, I am able to get local apples at a nearby orchard well into winter, and I plan on making quite a few apple crisps for friends between now and spring.

At Judy and Paul’s, we talked of many things—politics, American history, and the moral failings of our founding fathers, who pieced together a country but blighted it with slavery. Unfortunately, the ugly repercussions are still being felt today, over 200 years later.

Paul noted that our founding fathers—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin—did the best that they could. But did they? What would have happened if slavery had not been permitted? No country? Quite likely, but things fell apart less than a hundred years later, with the Civil War. Even afterwards, so many people continued to suffer because of the color of their skin. And still do.

Heavy topics for a January day. Good thing we had apple crisp, ice cream, and tea to lighten the mood.

When we came home from Judy and Paul’s, Clif made some of his delectable homemade French Fries, and we had them with faux chicken nuggets, which are tastier than you might think. Alas, no pictures. I’ll do better next time.

Then we settled down to watch Trevor Nunn’s delightful production of Twelfth Night, filmed in Cornwall and starring, among others, Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter. We own the DVD and watch it yearly. I think you can guess on which night. A bit of trivia: In Nunn’s Twelfth Night, Kingsley plays the jester, Feste, and I based my own Feste, in Maya and the Book of Everything, on Kingsley’s performance.

Might as well borrow from the best.

 

 

Food, Fun, and Folderol

The holidays are over, and our eldest daughter is back home in New York City. What a grand ten days we had with her, and as always, I’m a little blue that all the fun and folderol are over.

We are, ahem, a family that is more than a little obsessed with food. On Christmas Eve, our tradition is to have a homemade cheddar cheese soup that I’ve adapted from a Moosewood recipe. It’s a lovely, rich soup, and we gild the lily, so to speak, by adding broccoli and tortellini.

Dee loves waffles, and whenever she comes, Clif whips up some of his wonderful, light waffles, made at the table and served hot. For a side, we had Morningstar Farms veggie sausages, which are a tasty substitute for the real thing.

For a Christmas present, Clif and I received a gift certificate to one of our favorite restaurants—The Last Unicorn—in Waterville. There was enough on the certificate to treat Dee to lunch, and off we went to Waterville. How festive The Last Unicorn was, and the food, so reasonably priced, was absolutely  scrummy.

Speaking of presents and scrummy…as is our wont, we had a dash of fantasy during this holiday. For Dee, we bought her this confection at  Scrummy Afters for a Christmas present.

It is chocolate, of course, but without too much imagination, one could imagine that a little dragon is starting to crack the egg. Dee couldn’t bear to chop it up, and she brought the whole egg back with her to New York.

This must have been the Year of the Dragon as Dee bought me this adorable ornament to add to my collection.

However, this holiday season wasn’t all food and dragons. We are a family of film buffs, and what better thing to do when the weather is cold than to watch movies? Let’s just say our tastes are what you might call eclectic, ranging from the Transformer movie Bumblebee to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to the fabulous Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. (The latter being a DVD set and another Christmas present for Dee.)

And guess what? We liked them all. For those who are tempted to sniff at today’s popular culture, I want to remind you that once upon a time, Shakespeare was part of the popular culture in Elizabethan England.

Now that the holidays are over, it is time to get back to work. Book Three in my Great Library Series is slated to be published in 2020, which seems like a long way into the future. However, as I’ve barely begun working on Chapter one, I’d better chop-chop. A lot of effort goes into writing and publishing a book, and 2020 will be here before I know it.

Happy, happy New Year to all my blogging friends. I wish you good health, good food, good companionship, and lots of creativity.

 

 

 

Celebrating with Seafood and a Whoopie Pie

It’s not every day that you get the first shipment of your new book. Therefore, when the box with copies of Library Lost came in, Clif and I decided to celebrate and go to the Red Barn for some of their delectable seafood and, of course, a whoopie pie. So good and so reasonably priced.

And speaking of Library Lost…my blogging friend Eliza asked how a copy might be ordered. Glad you asked, Eliza! For others who are wondering, all you have to do is click here, and it will take you to our Hinterlands Press website, where you can order a signed copy directly from us. The book can also be ordered through Amazon.

On another subject…the holidays are coming—tomorrow is December 1—and yesterday I went into the woods to gather pine and dried fern stalks for outside arrangements on our little deck.

I went midafternoon when this time of year the sun is setting and the woods are filled with shadows. There were lots of fern stalks by the little stream that runs behind our house and eventually makes its way to the Upper Narrows Pond.

There were some winterberries left, a bright punctuation against the white of winter. Fortunately, I had gathered winterberries a couple of weeks ago, when they were more plentiful.

And I came across this tree, covered with fungi.

Always something to notice in the woods, even in the winter.

More Birthday Brouhaha

As I have written in the past, our philosophy is to celebrate early and celebrate often. Along with escaping Hurricane Florence, Shannon and Mike had timed their trip north to coincide with my birthday, which was yesterday. Since Clif’s birthday is a week from now, we figured a double celebration was in order.

Yesterday was a sunny day—not too hot, not too humid—so off we went to the Red Barn for seafood and chicken. I, of course, had a lobster roll. Utterly delicious, with just a touch of mayonnaise to hold the lobster together.

Then, for dessert, a whoopie pie.

After lunch, it was onward to Waterville to see the new waterfront park by the Kennebec River. Since the late 1960s, when in a fit of urban renewal all the buildings were torn down, a piece of land off Front Street had been empty and pretty much neglected. Not anymore. How spiffy and lovely it looks.

We walked across the Two Cent Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Waterville to Winslow. Time was when walkers had to pay a two-cent toll to cross the bridge, but that time has passed.

For no fee at all, we went across the bridge, where I took a picture of Shannon and Mike.

Here’s a shot down the blue, blue Kennebec River, toward the Hathaway Mill, which no longer produces shirts and is instead used for businesses and apartments. (You can’t really see the Hathaway in this picture, but it is on the right past the bridge.)

And here’s a shot up the river. On the right is the old Scott Paper Company, which looks deserted. So many factories closed, and while they polluted the Kennebec River, they also provided good-paying jobs. So far, nothing has come to take their place and lift the area’s economy.

But it was too fine a day to brood on a stalled economy. (I’ll save that for another day.) After walking across the bridge and along the river, we went to Cancun, a Mexican restaurant in Waterville, and had drinks at a table on the sidewalk.

Happy birthday to us!

Hurricane and Instant Pot Update

The bad news is that Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a category 4 hurricane and might even reach category 5 before it hits landfall.  And the damage won’t be done as Florence loses steam. Weakened, Florence is still dangerous. The forecast predicts that Florence will stall over land in North Carolina and could bring up to two feet of rain to an already saturated state. This, in turn, will bring floods, toppled trees, and massive power outages.

But for our little family, the good news is that kids, dogs, and kit have left Dodge, as it were, well ahead of Hurricane Florence. They will be with us sometime late tomorrow night, and how good it will be to see them.

Now for the Instant Pot. It worked exactly the way it should. Within an hour, we had a very tasty vegetable soup for our dinner, and most of that time involved cutting up the vegetables. We couldn’t believe that the five minute cooking time of the recipe was correct—that was after everything had come up to temperature—and so we cooked the soup for fourteen minutes. While the vegetables were good, they were too soft, and we were thinking that perhaps five minutes wasn’t so far off after all.

Before:

Fourteen minutes later:

This particular soup recipe called for a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in the bowls once the soup was done.  We substituted soy sauce, and the soup was tasty. But I am now intrigued about nutritional yeast, which I have never used. (I know, I know. I am behind on this one.) I plan on picking some up soon to use on vegetable soups and perhaps other dishes.

So all in all, a good day, but my thoughts are with those who must evacuate and don’t have family up north to stay with.

And I certainly hope that the aid to the Carolinas is better than what Puerto Rico got last year after Hurricane Maria. Three thousand dead. Some people without power and adequate housing for nearly a year.

A national disgrace.