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March 31, 2009

Francine Bistro’s Slivered Raw Asparagus Salad

Seasonality and fresh ingredients dictate the menu at Francine Bistro in Camden, so in springtime this wonderful slivered raw asparagus might be on the menu–but if not, you can re-create it at home.

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The Vegan Cook’s Bible

Soon to be in bookstores is Pat Crocker's The Vegan Cook's Bible. Challenged to devise a book that not only provided amazing, solely vegan recipes, but also a resource book for all, she succeeded as this is one you'll want within easy reach on your cookbook shelf. It is a comprehensive and thoroughly researched book featuring information on the 7 body systems, how to optimize their function through conscious nutrition choices, and suggestions for positive changes in diet and lifestyle modifications.

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Maine Events Calendar: April 2009

The time has sprung forward, the mercury (we hope) is on the rise, and spring seems a bit more than just a promise now. We've managed to weather a long winter, and have so much anticipation for warmer breezes, blooming flowers, and budding trees. I used to think using the word "rebirth" with the word "spring" was an old cliche. After this winter, rebirth and renewal seem to me the most beautiful words in the dictionary. Mud pies are in season as we celebrate Earth Day! 

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March 30, 2009

Pasta with Spring Flavors

Often, ideas for recipes surface during my long afternoon walks. I come home from work, gather up the dogs, and head out for some exercise. During walks I clear my head, let go of the day's events, and daydream. With lunch wearing off, my daydreams tend toward food, and what I'd like to have for dinner. 

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Eat Local Challenge 4th Annual Local Food Celebration

Belfast will hold its 4th Annual Local Food Celebration, an event designed to highlight some of the wonderful local farms, restaurants, and other food suppliers in the midcoast, at 5 pm Wednesday, April 1, at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller Street.

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Chocolate Carrot Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

This dessert combines two classic cakes–chocolate and carrot–into one. It's not as rich or heavy as pure chocolate cake, although the buttery frosting is a nod to chocoholics. In olden days carrots were a staple during winter because they store well in a root cellar.

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March 29, 2009

Vote Rockland, Maine as Coolest Small Town in America!

Rockland, Maine has been nominated as one of 22 towns in the entire country for the title of "The Coolest Small Town in America" by Budget Travel. If Rockland were to win this it could really help with summer tourism numbers not only in Rockland but for the state as a whole.

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March 28, 2009

Francine Bistro: A Camden Dining Experience

I recently had my first visit to Francine in Camden. Let me just start by saying that stepping inside this charming bistro (without reservations on a Saturday night), you would never know we were in the middle of any kind of economic crisis. A branch of blossoming forsythia and the smile of a friendly host hinted at the beautiful experience awaiting me. The atmosphere was inviting, warm, and cheery.  Low lighting, a full house, friendly wait staff, and divine food and drink were among the reasons I hope to make a return trip very soon, if I can wrestle my wallet to comply.

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March 27, 2009

Appreciating Maine’s Local Foods

Those of us who love to eat are spoiled here in Maine. It’s easy to lose perspective and take for granted things that make eating in our state unique. In an age when the White House has an organic backyard garden, I’d assumed that enthusiasm for locally-grown food was sweeping the country. Not so, says Russell Libby, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, who spoke this week in Belfast at a screening of the film Tableland. Maine is one of only a handful of places, along with Vermont, the Pacific Northwest, and pockets of Wisconsin, where organic, locally-produced foods are widely available. Nowhere else is interest in eating locally and sustainably so fervent.

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Gardening Workshop: How to Get Started Growing Your Own Food

Sharon Turner, Master Gardener, will be teaching a course this spring aimed at the first time gardener. This course will take place on Sunday, March 29, from 2-4pm at the Gibbs Library in Washington (Maine).

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March 26, 2009

Split Pea Soup with Smoky Ham

A fogbound or snowy day in Maine seems to demand soup–especially a stick-to-the-ribs potage such as this split pea soup flavored with smoky ham. Save that wonderful ham bone (preferably with a goodly amount of meat still attached) and freeze it until pea soup-making day, or simply buy a juicy smoked ham hock and supplement with a bit of additional chopped ham. Either Maine Johnnycake or buttered rye toast go well with this soup, along with a simple side salad of mixed greens.

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“A Sense of Wonder” Screenings in Maine

This March, the National Women's History Project and President Barack Obama honor women leaders of the environmental movement, observing in particular the pioneering work of Rachel Carson. In conjunction with this celebration, over 100 public screenings are being held around the country of the critically-acclaimed film "A Sense of Wonder", "an intimate and poignant portrait" of scientist Rachel Carson's life as she became a passionate advocate for the natural world after her publication of Silent Spring in 1962. The 2008 film was shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler at Carson's cottage on the coast of Maine.

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March 25, 2009

Gratin of Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes

"Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested on–potatoes and matrimony." 

This Irish quote totally resonates with me! We've been having some "chilly" days here in the Florida Keys (everything is relative, but chilly here on our island means 62°) so I've been hankering for comfort food. This gratin most definitely satisfied my longing.

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March 24, 2009

Arrows Restaurant: Maine Shrimp Dumplings with Cilantro

Winter in Maine may be long and dark, but at least we have fresh Maine shrimp! Delicate and small, these sweet pink morsels are perfect in dumplings. Serve with Vietnamese Clear Dipping Sauce.

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Arrows Restaurant: Dipping Sauce for Maine Shrimp Dumplings with Cilantro

Our version of this standard Vietnamese table condiment includes Vietnamese coriander, which is very different from cilantro, the common Mexican variety of coriander sold in most stores. Vietnamese coriander has long, pointed leaves and a strong, lemony taste that is almost as aromatic as perfume. It is easy to grow from seed, and you can bring it indoors during winter. 

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Ladles (yes, that’s what I said) and Gentlemen:

We're having soup.

It may be spring on the calendar, but it's still a-little-bit winter by the tummy's reckoning. We want things to eat that warm us up, food that makes us feel as comfy-cozy as our mother's hugs. We like food built on the layering principle, like the clothes we wear in the cold weather that continues to hang around outside.  Woolly cardigan over turtleneck sweater and jeans, with silk undies under all, are the wardrobe equivalent of such layered gustatory comforts as moussaka, lasagna, and cassoulet.

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March 22, 2009

Any Excuse for a Cake

On Matinicus Island, particularly during the winter and (even worse) early spring, some of us will settle for just about any reason to bake a cake. We might have to bring something to enliven an otherwise dull meeting, make something as a “thank-you” for the friend who gave us the spare furnace cement, tip the propane driver who endured the two-hour ferry ride, or celebrate Saint Melvin’s Day. It doesn’t take much.

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Maine Maple Syrup Sunday: Froggy’s Sap Shack Magic

Things were definitely steamy down at Froggy's Sap Shack (Freyenhagen Farm) in Union on Sunday. It was Maine Maple Sunday, a Maine rite of spring. Froggy's was one of many maple syrup producers all over the state opening their business doors for tours through the heavenly, maple-scented fog, as well as offering samples of the warm amber sweetness served over vanilla ice cream. 


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March 21, 2009

Scampi Lorenzo Appetizer: Chicken and Shrimp

This is a wonderful and impressive appetizer that we made many times in the restaurant at Las Bahias Resort on Vieques, Puerto Rico, where we both worked one winter. It was a huge success! In fact, many non-chicken lovers will be tempted to tell you this is the first time they have truly enjoyed chicken — keep your fingers crossed, they may even go so far as to tell you they love it!

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MOFGA Director to Introduce Showing of “Tableland”

The public is invited to attend a free talk and movie, part of the Eat Local Challenge Film and Discussion Series sponsored by the Belfast Free Library and the Belfast Co-op.  The movie "Tableland", which goes in search of the people, places, and tastes involved in North American small-scale food production, will be shown at the Belfast Free Library on Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30pm.

Giving an introduction to the film will be Russell Libby, executive director of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Libby's involvement with MOFGA in 1977 began because he saw a strong connection between local, organic food and a healthy Maine economy. With his family, he operates Three Sisters Farm, a small diversified farm, in Mount Vernon.

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.