Cooking with Maine Women Writers: New Year’s resolutions

January 15th, 2014 by Laura Taylor

The New Year is upon us and with the New Year very often comes…New Year’s resolutions! Have you made any resolutions this year? Are you sticking to them? Perhaps you’ve vowed to read more, exercise more, be nicer, get out of debt or volunteer. Of course, there’s always the ever-popular resolution to eat better and/or lose weight. I don’t know about you, but after the excesses of the holidays, I’m ready to get back to more vegetables and less sugar.

Vegetable flower bouquet from Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Vegetable Recipes.

We have here in our collection a lovely cookbook by Meg WolffA Life in Balance: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Optimal Health. Published in 2010, the book is full of healthy recipes like Summery Quinoa Salad, Vegan Pad Thai, Sweet Turnips with Maple Glaze and the one I’m going to share with you here today – George’s Tuscan Bean and Bread Hearty Stew.

This hearty stew could certainly fit right into a new year of healthy eating!

George’s Tuscan Bean and Bread Hearty Stew

In January 1999, Dr. Devra Krassner, a naturopath, told me that “some women with breast cancer have been helped by the macrobiotic (a plant-based) diet.” She later told me that her father George Krassner had adopted the way of eating when he was diagnosed in 1988 with advanced prostate cancer, which was expected to be terminal. My husband and I met George and his wife Judith on a trip to Italy in 2001. After that, we got together each year when they came up from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to Maine to visit their children. When I saw George in summer 2009, he was 80. He continues to live a healthy and active life, continues to travel, and still beats his 20-year-old grandson at tennis (almost).

  • 1 1/2 cups pre-soaked cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 small ribs celery
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 carrots, sliced in rounds
  • 2 cups green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 16-ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • sea salt, black pepper, garlic, shoyu to taste
  • 3 slices sourdough or whole-grain bread, cut into bite-size pieces

Soak beans overnight. Bring the beans to a boil on high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour or until tender.

Optional: Set aside 3/4 cup cooked beans; puree the remaining beans with the cooking liquid.

Heat olive oil on low to medium heat in a soup pan, then add the celery, onion, carrots, and cabbage. Stir well and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and water to cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the beans (and the puree, if used). Simmer covered for 1/2 hour. Add chopped kale and cook for 8 more minutes. Season with spices to taste. Stir in bread and serve.

Serves 6.

George says: “I’m pleased to credit my friend, Ginger Seles, a holistic chef, caterer and purveyor of natural skin-care products, for the basis of this recipe.”

Have a happy healthy new year!

Dorothy Wright Simes reflects on World War II

January 7th, 2014 by Ann Morrissey

The Maine Women Writers Collection is pleased to announce the addition of the Dorothy Wright Simes Papers which include diaries that cover 33 years of her life.  Dorothy Wright Simes lived from 1886 to 1974 and was the daughter of Augustus R. Wright who founded the A. R. Wright Company in the late 1880s and which still exists in Maine today as WEX (Wright Express).  She married Charles F. Simes in 1923 and lived in Portland on Bowdoin Street and summered regularly in Cape Elizabeth on her Father’s waterfront estate which is still in the family.

Many of the diaries skip through the young school and married lives of her two daughters, and follow her domestic concerns about the upkeep of her two houses but Simes also pays attention to the events of the Second World War.  She made almost 50 notations about the war starting as early as 1939 and continuing through 1945.


Her very earliest notations about the war were about helping out with “Friends of France” and the British Relief.  In June 18, 1940 the war hits close to home: “C telephoned they had ruled the company was not a public utility.”  C was her husband Charles who ran A. R. Wright during and after the war.  The company started as a coal delivery business and became a home heating fuel business.  During the War apparently many Bauxite deliveries came and needed to be repackaged as quickly as possible as Bauxite was a necessary ingredient in the making of aluminum.  There were many notations about Bauxite:  “C was late coming home as they were beginning to unload the Boxite [sic],” and “C is trying to arrange a priority so that he can get a machine for trimming out the Boxite [sic].”

The most fascinating entries are the more personal notations:

  •      Sun, Dec 7, 1941:  ” I had gone up to my room to rest, when Vicky called to me that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour at Honolulu.  Later we learned that had bombed Manella [sic] too, and we are in for it.  Even Sen. Wheeler says “we must beat hell out of them.”  C is at the plant, as they are putting up a new tower.  I don’t know if he even knows it yet,”
  •      Thurs, April 12, 1945: “President Roosevelt died very suddenly at Warm Springs of a cerebral hemorrhage.”
  •      Tues, Aug 14, 1945: “Am sitting waiting to hear official announcement of Japan’s surrender. … we got the news on the radio (7 p. m.) of the unconditional surrender of Japan.  The Star-Spangled was played and the feelings that surged up in us, were something I shall never forget.”

These six years of war diaries are spectacular resources and immediately available to staff or students (perhaps Historians or English majors) who want to understand more closely what happened in the United States during the Second World War.