Holiday Treats

Time for holiday treats!  I’m not a baker by any means, so when I thought about posting a recipe for cookies or bars I wanted to find something with few ingredients and limited instructions.  Bingo ! Marjorie Standish saves the day again.  Here is her recipe for Quick Party Bars which is featured in her book Cooking Down East.  Enjoy.

Quick Party Bars

1 stick margarine

½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup flour

½ cup oatmeal

1 cup chocolate bits

Nuts

Cream shortening.  Add light brown sugar.  Add vanilla, egg and beat until light and creamy.  Add sifted flour, fold in oatmeal.  No baking powder in recipe.  Turn into buttered 8 by 8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Place pan on rack to cook.  Then spread 1 cup semisweet chocolate bits, melted, all over top of baked bars.  Sprinkle chopped nuts on top.  Cool and cut into bars.

 

Apple Crisp

Fall is in the air and apple crisp should be in your oven on its way to the table.  Want a simple recipe from the best Maine cook book?  Here is the Marjorie Standish recipe from Cooking Down East.

APPLE CRISP

Place in buttered baking dish:

4 cups sliced apples

Sprinkle with:

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

¼ cup water

Combine ¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

Use pastry blender for mixing flour, sugar and butter.

Turn mixture over apple slices.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Serve warm with cream, ice cream or sauce.

Serves 6

Castle Tucker

Have you been to Castle Tucker in Wiscasset?  It is part of Historic New England, a trust that preserves historic houses and architectural designs.

TheCastlepoet writes,

“Perhaps the most original and prominent historic house in Wiscasset, Maine, Castle Tucker dates from 1807. It was built at the behest of Judge Silas Lee, a leading jurist and politician of the Federal period, when Wiscasset was the busiest port in the United States north of Boston. In 1858 Captain Richard H. Tucker, a local shipping magnate, purchased the house. Tucker subsequently enlarged the home, adding the Italian features that give it its distinctive appearance. Today, Castle Tucker is a museum owned and operated by Historic New England (formerly the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities).”

The web site for this wonderful house is https://www.historicnewengland.org/property/castle-tucker/

The beginning of this site gives a concise description of the history of the house and what you will find there:

“A time capsule of Victorian taste

Wiscasset, Maine

Dramatically sited on a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River, Castle Tucker tells the story of a prominent shipping family’s life on the coast of Maine over a period of 150 years. From 1858 until the end of the twentieth century, both the Tucker family and their imposing house survived economic upheavals, emotional turmoil, and a rapidly changing outside world.

Built in 1807, the house was later redecorated and furnished to satisfy modern Victorian taste and sensibilities. A visit to Castle Tucker offers a glimpse into the everyday life of Mollie and Richard Tucker and their five children at the turn of the twentieth century. With three generations of family possessions on view, Castle Tucker is a time capsule that echoes with the voices of a remarkable Maine family.”

Look at the site.  Check out the pictures and history provided.  Castle Tucker is certainly worth the short trip to Wiscasset.

 

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Red Poppies

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

National Moment of Remembrance

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

 

This is from the web address –     http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2

 

 

Easter Eggs

Although we didn’t dye “Easter eggs” as a family when I was growing up, I have always been fascinated by the creative results that are often produced.  These results happen sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally.  Yankee magazine published an article in 2012 that is now featured on their New England Today web page telling how to dye eggs using natural, home ingredients.  Give it a try.

The article was written by Christine Chitnis.

DayGlo-dyed eggs have their retro charms, but we think it’s even more fun to make your own colorings using common foods. The result is a subtler, more sophisticated palette–perfect for your holiday centerpiece. The only downside? You’ll need to soak the eggs longer in homemade egg dye–two to three hours–but natural beauty like this is well worth the wait.

Natural Dyed Eggs for Easter

Photo by Ira Garber

How to Make Homemade Egg Dye:

Create the base: Combine 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt.

Ingredients to Make Homemade Egg Dye:

— hard-boiled white eggs in their shells
— water
— white vinegar
— salt
— beets, ground coffee, red cabbage, ground turmeric
— knife, pots, strainer, bowls (metal, ceramic, or plastic)

Notes: Save the egg carton (you’ll use it for drying the dyed eggs). And when you transfer your dyes into bowls, don’t use your good dishes or kitchenware, as the colors may stain.

To dye the eggs: Soak in the homemade egg dye until eggshells reach the desired shade (two to three hours); the longer you soak them, the deeper and richer the color will be. Using a spoon, set the eggs into their carton(s), and let them dry thoroughly. When you’re done, you’ll welcome the new season with a lovely, all-natural addition to your spring decor!

RED DYE:

Roughly chop 2 beets, and combine with the base. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl and reserve the liquid for dyeing. Let cool.

BROWN DYE:

Combine 4 tablespoons of ground coffee with the base and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl and reserve the liquid for dyeing. Let cool.

BLUE DYE:

Shred half of a large red cabbage and combine with the base.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Strain into a bowl and reserve the liquid for dyeing.  Let cool.

YELLOW DYE:

Combine 5 tablespoons of ground turmeric with the base and stir well.  Simmer just until the turmeric dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and reserve liquid for dyeing.  Let cool.

 

 

 

 

Spring!

How could we not post a blog this time of year without thinking about and looking forward to spring?  So in that frame of mind, here are some books that have the word SPRING in their titles.

Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur.  A young woman returns to her rural Vermont hometown in the wake of a heavy storm to search for her missing mother and unravel a powerful family secret.

Paris Spring by James Naughtie.  Paris, in April of 1968. The cafes are alive with talk of revolution, but for Scottish-American Will Flemyng–a spy working in the British Embassy–the crisis is personal. A few words from a stranger on the Metro change his life. His family is threatened with ruin and he now faces the spy’s oldest fear: exposure. Freddy Craven is the hero and mentor Flemyng would trust with his life, but when he is tempted into a dark, Cold War labyrinth, he chooses the dangerous path and plays his game alone. And when glamorous, globe-trotting journalist Grace Quincy, in pursuit of a big story, is found dead in the Pe-Lachaise cemetery, the question is raised–what side was she on? Certainly she knew too much, and had become dangerous. But to whom?

Spring fever by Mary Kay Andrews.  Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless. So she has no problem attending his wedding. But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called off, Annajane begins to wonder if she’s been given a second chance.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.  This was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.

Spring wildflowers of New England by Marilyn J. Dwelley.  Published by Down East Books, can’t you just picture those spring wildflowers poking their heads up?

Come Spring by Ben Ames Williams.  A fictional history of Union, Maine, here is a detailed novel of life in a Maine frontier village at the time of the revolution. Although they are not far from the scene of the war, the Indians and their own daily lives are of more importance to these sturdy pioneers than were wars or rumors of wars.

In the fire of spring by Thomas Tryon.  Not really about spring (but it does have spring in the title), this novel tells the story of women abolitionists in Connecticut.

Beyond the spring : Cordelia Stanwood of Birdsacre by Chandler S. Richmond.  Again, not really spring, but Stanwood was an ornithologist from Maine and known for her photographs.

There now, don’t you feel better already having just thought about Spring?

Happy New Year

Ever wonder about the tradition of the ball dropping in Times Square?  The website www.timeanddate.com says, “A particularly striking aspect of the New Year’s Eve festivities is the ball drop in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City.  The ball is made of crystal and electric lights and is placed on top of a pole, which is 77 feet, or 23 meters, high.  At one minute before midnight on December 31, the ball is lowered slowly down the pole. It comes to rest at the bottom of the pole at exactly midnight.  The event is shown on television across the United States and around the world.  The event has been held every year since 1907, except during World War II.

Across the United States a range of cities and towns hold their own versions of the ball drop.  A variety of objects are lowered or raised during the last minute of the year.  The objects are usually linked to an aspect of local history or industry.  Examples of objects ‘dropped’ or raised in this way include a variety of live and modeled domestic and wild animals, fruit, vegetables, automobiles, industrial machinery, a giant replica of a peach (Atlanta, Georgia), an acorn made of brass and weighing 900 pounds (Raleigh, North Carolina) and ping pong balls (Strasburg, Pennsylvania).”

Still looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve?  Check out these celebrations in Maine’s biggest city of Portland:

https://www.eventbrite.com/d/me–portland/new-years-eve-parties/

Let’s all plan on a wonderful and positive year in 2019!

Thanksgiving and Marjorie Standish

Thanksgiving and Marjorie Standish.  While the two are not necessarily tied to each other, I do associate both of them with good comfort food.  So as Thanksgiving approaches, I will share with you Marjorie’s recipe for Baked Acorn Squash.  It’s about as simple and delicious as you can get.  It is also featured in the new book, Cooking Maine Style which is edited by Sandra Oliver and features classic recipes of Marjorie Standish.  You can check it out at the Gardiner Public Library.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH

Wash the squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds using a spoon.  Wash once more, turn squash upside-down in a baking pan, pour ¼ inch cold water in pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for ½ hour.  Remove from oven, turn squash right side up.  Salt and pepper it, sprinkle with brown sugar (maple syrup is good, too).  Place piece of butter in each half.  Return to oven, bake 30 minutes longer.  Serve.