Category Archives: What I’ve Been Reading Online


In the New York Times, there is a link to Beth Quimby’s piece in the Kennebec Journal about Maine lobster. I decided that if the Times thought it worthwhile to link to the KJ, then I should take note and do the same.

The piece is indeed quite relevant, not only to Mainers, but to those “from away” as well. Among other things, the piece discusses the price of lobster and how the high cost of diesel makes it increasingly difficult for lobstermen (and women, too, presumably) to make a profit.

Quimby writes, “Mother’s Day is the informal kickoff for the lobster season in Maine.” The implication is that Mother’s Day will give an indication of what kind of demand there will be for lobster during the upcoming tourist season.

In my recent post about Mother’s Day, I wrote about how a corner market in SoPo sold out of lobster rolls by 12:30. If other Maine shops selling lobster had a similar demand, then it’s my prediction that despite the high price of diesel, 2011 will be a banner year for lobster consumption in Maine.



Here are a couple of posts that make some good foodie points. The first is Julia Moskin’s New York Times review of the restaurant Buvette, which is in New York City on Bleecker Street. Buvette is a French restaurant, but casual rather than formal. Moskin describes many of their dishes, which certainly made my mouth water, and then ended with this: “Buvette stands for wallowing gracefully in modest luxuries: a well-made omelet, a well-seasoned horseradish cream sauce, a well-balanced chocolate mousse.”

I love “wallowing in modest luxuries.” It gives me pleasure just to think about this lovely phrase, and it is exactly the right approach to food—a way filled with pleasure but also a way that is sustainable, not at all over-the-top, and definitely not snobby.

The second piece, written by Anne Mahle, is in the Portland Press Herald, and it addresses the extreme concern that some people have about eating the right thing—always local, always organic, always perfectly good for you. Then, in their busy lives, when they slip and buy, say, a frozen pizza or nonlocal milk, or, the worst horror of all, they actually slink into a fast food restaurant for something to eat because they have a meeting in a half hour and there just isn’t time to cook and eat before the damned thing starts, they have guilt, guilt, and more guilt.

Mahle briskly does away with these dark blots on our foodie consciences: “The guilt and stress we create for ourselves around food are, to my mind, a complete waste of energy….It is the striving that is important…”

Mahle is right. The striving, the work that goes into being, if I may borrow from myself, a good eater, a responsible eater, should never end because even though progress might sometimes be slow, success does come with practice.

And if we slip from time to time, as most people will? Then there is always tomorrow, when we perhaps we won’t slip.


A few days ago, in the Portland Press Herald I read Avery Yale Kamila’s piece, “Vegan Food Goes Mainstream in Portland.” It seems that many of Portland’s restaurants are adding a vegan entrée to menus that traditionally have been heavy with meat and seafood. For example, Grace Restaurant is offering a “mushroom mac and peas featuring cauliflower puree, wild mushrooms, black truffles, and snow peas.”  

In a recent post, I wrote about how my husband and I had switched to a mostly vegetarian diet and how meat and fish would be saved for eating out or for special occasions. We are doing this for ethical reasons—it simply takes too much energy to produce meat. I also admitted that we would be keeping eggs, butter, and milk in our diet, that we wouldn’t be going completely vegan. But, fruit, grains, and vegetables would form the bulk of what we eat. 

Therefore, I am encouraged by this recent vegan trend in Portland restaurants, and I hope it’s not a fad that will just fizzle out. A lot of it will depend on how the food actually tastes. It’s all very well and good to be ethical, but if the meal isn’t tasty as well, then ethics will only go so far.  

However, I expect that Maine chefs will rise to the challenge of cooking vegan dishes that are both good for the planet and pleasing to the palate.


Here are a few pieces on the Internet that might be of interest to readers.

First, from the food writer Mark Bittman, who fasted last week to protest proposed budget cuts to the food stamp program as well as other programs that help the poor. In the opinion section of the New York Times blog, Bittman has written several pieces, all worth reading, and one of them includes a great link to the Center for American Progress, which gives some interesting facts and figures about budget cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy.

Second, a sweet little piece from the Bangor Daily News about migrant workers in Down East Maine and how those workers are builidng “bridges with food.” (I just love that idea!)

Finally, wonderful writing from Fran Claro’s blog, The Italian Pantry. Her description of pizza rustica made me long for some, and the weaving of the Easter palms reminded me of my Catholic girlhood in Maine. This was a ritual in our house, too, albeit not as fancy as what Claro describes. And, darn it all, we never made pizza rustica, either. We just had plain old ham.


Fresh BreadThere are two items of particular interest today.  

The first is from Yahoo’s Shine section—“What’s Your Recipe for Perfect Toast?”, a piece by Sarah Fuss about a subject that doesn’t (but should!) get much coverage. Toast, glorious toast.  

In our household, we never get sick of toast. We have it for breakfast; I often have it for lunch, with peanut butter; and one of my favorite light suppers is poached egg (ideally Monika’s) with, you guessed it, toast. 

I make most of the bread that we eat, and we have gotten so spoiled with the homemade bread that on the rare occasions when we do buy bread, toast just isn’t the same. It almost takes the zip out of our day because let’s face it—good toast provides a solid foundation. With good toast, anything seems possible. Good toast gives us the energy to sally forth and meet our challenges: Clif, at Maine Housing in Augusta, and me in front of the computer as I wrestle with words. 

Occasionally, I meet someone who doesn’t own a toaster. Inconceivable! How do they get by without toast? However, in “What’s Your Recipe for Perfect Toast?”, Sarah Fuss describes how ABC Kitchen’s Dan Klugger makes toast. Basically, he fries it in olive oil. Nothing wrong with this technique, which would produce an excellent dinner toast. But, in my mind, at least, proper toast is made in a toaster. 

There is one area where Fuss and I are in perfect agreement, and that is with butter. We both like to leave the butter dish out of the refrigerator—only in the hottest weather will butter go bad. And now it’s time for a major confession: Like Fuss, I prefer salted butter. As a cook, I know I am supposed to prefer unsalted butter, and I have tried to like unsalted butter. In fact, it’s what I usually buy. But somehow butter just doesn’t taste as smooth and as sweet when it’s unsalted. To me, unsalted butter is the bland, boring cousin of salted butter. 

The second item of interest is a cooking video from the New York Times. In this short video, Melissa Clark demonstrates how to make a beautiful and mouth-watering citrus salad. All you need is a very sharp knife and a variety of citrus fruit. A little olive oil and sea salt for a dressing, and you have yourself a lovely salad. Then, to make a good thing even better, feta cheese, olives, or Parmesan can be added.  

I’ll be making one of these salads soon. Very soon.