A Maine Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

For most of us, Thanksgiving conjures up visions of food: food made by our mothers and grandmothers in our childhoods. We spend this holiday trying to live up to (or surpass) the meals of our past. Whether you are a traditionalist or a having a Friendsgiving party with people of many backgrounds, our cookbook selection holds some delicious (and interesting) ideas for your Thanksgiving and post-turkey meals.

From Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cookbook (1884), here are some of the basic traditional Thanksgiving staples:

Turkey, plus the all-important stuffing and gravy.

A variety of pies

For some new and interesting side dishes, I consulted Meg Wolff’s A Life in Balance (2010), which offers “plant-based recipes for optimal health.”

You might enjoy a side dish of Beet Slaw or Sweet Turnips:

Perhaps you are looking to re-create some of your mom’s favorite recipes?
Turn no further than the Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (1959), which offers “slick tricks with vegetables” and some delicious apple-based desserts.


For those adventurous readers looking for a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast, you might enjoy a selection of vegetarian options from Barbara Damrosch & Eliot Coleman’s garden to table cookbook The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook (2013).

A nice appetizer

A simple, delicious main course

After all that food, you might need a good digestive tonic tea. Deb Soule’s most recent book How to Move Like a Gardener (2013) offers a simple tea that will help to nourish your body and keep your belly happy after any meal.

Finally, you’ll need some ideas for all that extra turkey.
Here are some traditional ideas from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook.  

Perhaps a more modern inspiration is what your heart (or belly) desires.
Try Kathy Gunst’s Greek-Style Turkey-Lemon-Rice Soup.

There you have it–our round-up of recipes for this foodie holiday. Whether you’re preparing a meal for one or thirty, we hope you feel your appetite for good food and wonderful cookbooks whetted.

If you’re needing a good Maine cookbook, stop by Longfellow Books on Saturday to meet some local authors (including Monica Wood), and check out their wonderful selection of cookbooks.

Cooking with Maine Women Writers: cake…and more cake!

April 9th, 2014 by Laura Taylor

The arrival of a new issue of Baker’s Notes, published by Scratch Baking Co. in South Portland, is always a cause for a little celebration at my desk. It doesn’t happen often, being only a bi-annual publication, but I always look forward to it. I love to see what recipes they’ve decided to share this time and pore over all the beautiful photographs of beautiful baked goods. (I can’t be the only one who enjoys looking at and reading about food nearly as much as eating it?)

My daughter turned 4 this past Sunday and when I thought about what cake I was going to make, using a recipe from Baker’s Notes and then blogging it here seemed a logical choice. (I do love to multi-task!) I actually ended up using three recipes from the same issue of Baker’s Notes – their everyday yellow cake (transformed into cake pops) and their one bowl chocolate cake (made into cupcakes) with ring ding-a-ling filling, which I used to frost the cupcakes. Every last bite was delicious. (If you’ve never had one of their ring ding-a-lings, I highly recommend them!)

We went for a spring theme – bee cake pops buzzing amongst the flowers and sheep cupcakes grazing on a field of gluten-free grass cupcakes. They were all super easy and a huge hit with all the party guests, young and old. Most importantly, the birthday girl loved them!

The recipes came from Issue No. 2: Sweet, published in 2011/2012. (I’m sharing the yellow cake recipe below – I’d recommend finding a copy of Issue 2 yourself and making the chocolate cake and ring ding-a-ling filling as well!)

Note: you will need a kitchen scale for this recipe.

every day YELLOW CAKE


  • 7 ounces (0.44 pounds) cake flour
  • 7 ounces (0.44 pounds) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have a well greased 9-inch round high-sided cake pan ready. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir on low for 30 seconds to combine dry ingredients and aerate them. Add the soft butter cubes and mix on low until all of the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand. Add 1/2 cup milk and increase mixer to medium speed. Mix for 90 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Whisk yolks, 3 tablespoons milk, and vanilla together and add to batter. Scrape down sides of bowl then mix one minute more. The batter should be very silky with no lumps. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.

My notes: I do not have a high-sided round cake pan, so I baked this in an 8×8 square pan and it turned out beautifully. (Although, since the final goal, in my case, was cake pops it didn’t really matter how my cake looked – it all got crumbled in the end!)

Cooking with Maine Women Writers: butternut squash ravioli

March 4th, 2014 by Laura Taylor


This time of year, it can be hard to eat local. More squash? Potatoes? Again? Sigh.

We’re starting to reach the end of our winter stores and might be quite tired of root vegetables, squash and the like. (Personally, I love root vegetables and I adore winter squash but not everyone in my house shares this devotion.)

I decided to try my hand at homemade ravioli to see if I could get the rest of the family to appreciate the wonders of the butternut squash. The recipe comes from a beautiful cookbook here in our collection called Portland, Maine Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Casco Bay. I’ve mentioned it before in my post about my semi-successful adventure in gelato-making.

This ravioli recipe is from Local Sprouts. I’ve never had their version, so I can’t say how my homemade one compares – but I will say that it was quite tasty! It was my first time making homemade pasta and while it wasn’t exactly difficult (very easy, in fact) mine turned out a little thicker and tougher than I wished. I guess I need practice!


Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter
(Serves 4-6)

  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 ounces plus 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 recipe pasta dough*, rolled out into wide ribbons about 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the cheese and nutmeg to taste. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cool completely.

Cut the pasta ribbons into 3-inch squares. You will have approximately 40 pieces of dough. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each pasta square. Bring one corner of the square to the opposite corner, forming a triangle, and pinch the two open sides to seal the filled pasta completely.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 2-3 minutes or until the pasta floats and is pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well.

Season with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from heat.

To serve: Divide the ravioli between the serving plates. Spoon the brown butter over the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 2 ounces of grated cheese over the plates and garnish with parsley.

*The intro states: For the Butternut Squash Ravioli…use your favorite pasta dough, or try East Ender’s recipe (see below).

For the pasta:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • Splash of milk

To make the pasta: Sift flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add egg yolks, egg, oil, and milk. Using your fingers, slowly mix in flour from the edges, kneading to make a stiff dough. Lightly flour a smooth work surface and turn out the dough, pushing it and kneading with the heels of your hands for 15 minutes. The dough will become silky and elastic as you knead. Gather into a ball and cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take out of the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, and use a rolling pin, pasta roller, or wine bottle to roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness.

My notes: I could not get my pasta thin enough, and thus didn’t have nearly 40 squares for filling. I had about half that, which left me with leftover filling. (Yum.) Since I didn’t have as many raviolis, I only used half the butter for the brown butter with sage. I managed to win over one person in the house to the joys of butternut squash, but the two littlest members of the family remain unconvinced.

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!

Cooking with Maine Women Writers: maple gelato

August 28th, 2013 by Laura Taylor

This post was intended for maple syrup season, way back in the spring. But life got in the way, maple syrup season ended and the post remained forgotten. Then summer came along – the perfect time for gelato! – but with summer comes family barbecues, beach days, and hot weather. I don’t know about you, but hot weather generally means I’m not up for spending time at the stove. And despite this recipe being for a delicious frozen treat, there is some standing at the stove involved. Not a lot, mind you, but some. Even some is too much for me when it’s 85 degrees in my kitchen and the cool waters of our favorite swimming spot are calling my name.

Complicating matters, I don’t actually own an ice cream maker, which you will need to make this recipe.

However, at the end of the summer, at one of those family barbecues, an aunt came forward with an ice cream maker she’d never used! She’d seen a Facebook post of mine back in the spring asking to borrow an ice cream maker (for this very recipe) and remembered, all these months later.

So, with no other excuses to be made, I decided to finally get down to business and make myself (and my family if they were lucky) some maple gelato.

The recipe was published in Portland, Maine Chef’s Table by Margaret Hathaway, a beautiful cookbook containing recipes from nearly 50 of Portland’s wonderful restaurants. Think Otto’s mashed potato, bacon and scallion pizza, Silly’s fried pickles, and Duckfat’s pork belly “BLT,” to name a few of my personal favorites. There are a multitude of others, including this one – Maine maple gelato from Maple’s Organic.

Maine Maple Gelato
makes about 1 quart

  • 1 cup maple syrup, darkest available
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heatproof bowl, beat together maple syrup and egg yolks until the mixture is noticeably lightened in color. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring milk and sea salt to a boil, then remove from heat. Whisking rapidly to prevent the eggs from scrambling, stream about 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Stream this mixture back into the remaining hot milk, again whisking rapidly. Add the cream, mix thoroughly, and refrigerate for several hours. When thoroughly chilled, freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions in the ice cream maker of your choice.

So after freezing our ice cream bowl, per manufacturer instructions, and making this delicious ice cream mixture, turns out the never-been-used ice cream maker we had been given…doesn’t work. Oh no! What’s a gelato-loving girl to do? Our mixture was already starting to freeze in the bowl, so we just turned the insert by hand. Sure, it’s not as automatic as simply turning it on and coming back in under 30 minutes to a perfectly frozen creamy treat, but it worked. Mostly. After a short stint in the freezer to firm it up some more, it was pretty much perfect. (And by perfect, I mean it was sort of icy. I blame operator error, not the recipe.) But! It was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I never had a chance to take any photos of it! I always like to accompany my blog posts (especially food posts) with a lovely photo, but our photo subject in this case didn’t stick around long enough.

As we head into fall, I suppose I’ll have to start searching our collection for some fall-inspired recipes! But first I’m going to enjoy every last moment of this beautiful summer. Gelato, anyone?