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Maine Home Cooking: 175 Recipes from Down East Kitchens Hardcover – September 16, 2012
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About the Author
Sandra Oliver is a pioneering food historian who began her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house.
Sandra is a freelance food writer, with her column, "Tastebuds", appearing each weekend in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and the Working Waterfront. She is also the author of the books, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century, The Food of Colonial and Federal America and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie, which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin.
She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, and island in Penobscot Bay, where she gardens, preserves, cooks, and teaches sustainable lifeways.
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Now, let me be up front with you. Over the years I have learned that there are two kinds of cooks - those who view a recipe more as a guideline than something set in stone and those who approach a recipe as if they are performing nuclear chemistry, exactly copying the precise ingredients and even expecting the final product to look exactly like the picture in the book. There is nothing whatever wrong with either sort of cook, but if you are the "nuclear chemistry" sort then this is absolutely NOT a book for you. Only a few of the recipes have pictures (though they all have great stories from Down East) and virtually all of them have more options than not.
It is probably a good thing that I have a Kindle copy rather than a hard copy. I've used mine so much that the pages would long-since be well stained - and I only bought this a few weeks ago LOL! Let me tell you about some of my most favorite recipes -
▶︎ TEST RECIPE - BLUEBERRY CAKE
Maine is known for their wild blueberries. Every summer we picked them by the bucketful, then turned them into jam, pies and this Blueberry Cake. Long ago I misplaced the recipe that we used so often, but Sandra has hit it on the nose, just exactly as I remember. Packed with berries and topped with a streusel mix, this is a glorious cake to serve for breakfast/brunch or just as a snack or dessert. Easy as pie to make and pretty economical too, even older children and those just learning to bake will find this rewarding to make. Not blueberry season? Don't worry - you can use the cultivated ones from the grocery store or even frozen ones.
▶︎ TEST RECIPE - PUMPKIN WAFFLES
My granddaughter is a good New England girl even though she lives in the UK these days. No food is dearer to her than pumpkin anything. Pumpkin of the canned sort is quite different than here, so one of her first food requests was pumpkin spice anything. Sandra's recipe for Pumpkin Spice Waffles filled the bill in no uncertain terms. A single batch of batter made 6 or 7 waffles, just enough for four of us. You could, if you wanted to, doll these up with some caramel sauce, toasted pecans or walnuts and a dab of whipping cream. I served them straight up with local maple syrup. There wasn't a single crumb left.
▶︎ TEST RECIPE - CURRIED SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP
We love curry and fall is butternut squash and apple season here in Vermont, so one day for lunch I made Curried Squash and Apple Soup. The girls practically licked the bowls - seriously! I worried for a minute that the patterns would come off! Sandra gives dozens of ways to put this together. Since my granddaughter is a vegetarian, I used water and coconut milk instead of chicken broth. Can I say O.M.G?! Seriously bowl-licking luscious!
Grandma's $0.02 - The recipes you'll find in Maine Home Cooking: 175 Recipes from Down East Kitchens are really good versions of the best of both old and modern New England food - the way it used to be. As long as you're not a "nuclear chemist" sort of cook, this will become a favorite book in your kitchen. I really should seriously ding it for the messed up Table of Contents/Index, but the recipes are so totally delightful I'm just going to order a hard copy!
Very Highly Recommended
My only complaints are, I see by reading other reviews, echoing others: why are the side bars and the comments printed in colors which offer almost no contrast and which are almost impossible to read. The other grumble is the size of the font for the page numbers. Some of us with aging eyes are having problems with both these editorial/publishing errors. Other than that, it is a wonderful collection and I don't mind the somewhat idiosyncratic index or the lack of captions on the photos. Sandy is a brilliant food historian and writer and I'm really happy to have resurrected the cookbook. It will not be one of the many that may leave the premises!
You will find recipes such as:
Fish and Potatoes
Old-Fashioned Brown Bread
Key Lime Pie
Eggless, Milkless, Butterless Cake
There are numerous color images gracing this lovely cookbook.
Recommend with caveats given.
Most recent customer reviews
The book offered noting I could use. Sorry I bought it.