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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


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.


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

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.


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.


Happy Birthday, Marjorie Standish!

Did you know that a Gardiner kitchen was once every Maine kitchen?  From Biddeford to Boothbay, Waterville to Washington County, I’ve never known a Maine home that didn’t contain one or both (or multiple copies of each) of Marjorie Standish’s classic cookbooks, Cooking Down East and Keep Cooking – The Maine Way.

It may be old news to many, but it came as quite a wonderful surprise to me (and to many of those with whom I’ve recently shared my enlightenment) that Marjorie Standish lived, cooked, and wrote most of her famous cooking columns and recipes right here in Gardiner!

Happy Birthday, Marjorie Standish!

As this past week brought us what would have been her 108th birthday, what better time to celebrate and get to know a little more about our celebrated citizen?

So, a little history….
Marjorie Holbrook was born in Brunswick on June 21, 1908.  She graduated from Farmington Normal School (later UMF) in 1931with a B.S. in Home Economics.  She taught the subject in various Maine high schools and eventually became home service advisor and coordinator for Central Maine Power Company.  In 1936, she married George A. Standish and moved to Gardiner where his family had lived and worked for two decades.

She and George soon set up their household on Chestnut Street where they remained for nearly 30 years.  Marjorie continued working for many years, including those when her husband served in WWII.  She began writing her popular cooking column, Cooking Down East, for the Portland Sunday Telegram in 1948.

Marjorie was an active member of the Gardiner community and served many years with the Gardiner General Hospital Women’s Board — work she continued even after she and George moved to Augusta in 1966.


She wrote her newspaper column for 25 years, 18 years of which were penned in Gardiner.  In 1969, she published her first volume of 350 compiled recipes, Cooking Down East, and followed it only four years later with Keep Cooking the Maine Way.  Both remain Maine kitchen staples and we are proud to keep autographed copies inscribed to the Gardiner Public Library in our archival collection.  This week you will find them, along with some additional Marjorie memorabilia, in our display case in the Hazzard Reading Room  — stop in and learn more about her, her recipes, and her ties with Gardiner.

Also this week, the Gardiner Farmer’s Market will host a Marjorie Standish-inspired Pot-Luck on the Common (Wednesday, June 29, 5PM).  Bring your favorite Standish dish (if by some chance you do not own one of her cookbooks, the library also has circulating copies — and they are well worth checking out!) or bring any home-cooked specialty.   Marjorie was inspired by local ingredients and long-standing family recipes.  We hope you will join us and your neighbors in celebrating one of our own home-town greats, as well as our many home-grown foods!  Happy Summer!  Happy Cooking!! and Happy Birthday, Marjorie Standish!!!

– Dawn Thistle, Special Collections Librarian
Community Archives Room


Salad Time!

 Summer time is salad time . . . . and nothing beats the comfort foods of Maine like those featured in the cookbooks of Marjorie Standish.  Cooking Down East was published in 1969; Keep Cooking – The Maine Way was published in 1973.  Both books are available at the Gardiner Public Library.  Try the recipe that follows for macaroni salad or check out one of the titles to look for other down home comfort foods from Maine.

2 cups elbow macaroni
½ cup mayo
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp diced pimiento
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ cup diced green pepper
1 cup finely diced celery
1 slice onion, finely minced
Cook elbow macaroni, rinse with cold water and drain.  Mix mayo with lemon juice, salt and sugar.  Combine cooked macaroni, vegetables, celery seed and mayo mixture, blending thoroughly.  This may be stored covered in fridge for overnight or all day.  You may want to add other seasonings, such as chopped dill pickle or chopped sweet pickle.  Chopped cucumber and chopped fresh tomato add interesting flavors, too.
Serve on crisp lettuce leaves.  This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Summer ! Being outside ! Cook-outs !

 And all hail to Marjorie Standish and her down-home Maine recipes.  Marjorie was a local resident who was the longtime food columnist for the Maine Sunday Telegram.  Her two books of collected recipes – Cooking Down East and Keep Cooking – The Maine Way – are both available to borrow from the Gardiner Public Library.

Check out her delicious and classic recipes for:
                Melt-in-your-mouth blueberry cake
                Baked beans
                Barbecued chicken
                Dilled string beans
                Dump bars
                Baked stuffed lobster
Now those would make a great cookout meal !