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June 30, 2010

My Love Affair with Cooking

I had another cooking class last night—stir-fry this time, and I discovered something. I am falling in love with cooking. It sounds cliché or perhaps over sentimentalized, but I swear it’s true. You get into a certain rhythm as you prepare your vegetables or chop the meat, and all the stresses of the day fade to a distant rumble.
Chelsea cooking
Chelsea cooks up a stir-fry storm in her grandmother’s kitchen (image by Marshall Sonksen)

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June 29, 2010

Laura Cabot’s Peekytoe Crab Cakes & Remoulade Sauce

These delicious crab cakes used to cause a fuss at my former restaurant the “Pine Cone Cafe” back in the day. It was our most popular offering. They even got published nationally in Ladies’ Home Journal back in the 90s. Never mind that the people who noticed were mainly friend’s mothers under the hairdryer in their beauty salons…I like kudos any way I can get them!

You’ll get kudos too when you serve these up. Best right out of the pan and onto the plate, but will hold nicely in a moderate oven.

image courtesy of

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June 28, 2010

Summer Peach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Thanks to a warm, wet June, farm stands are overflowing with strawberries and early summer vegetables. It’s all I can do to keep up with the lettuce in my weekly CSA bag. This light, colorful salad couldn’t be easier to throw together, and it’s bursting with summer flavor. It makes a perfect picnic side dish, but it’s also hearty enough for a meal–nuts and seeds are dense sources of protein and healthy fats.

You’ll have to wait a month to find Maine-grown peaches, but you can purée and freeze local strawberries now. You’ll need ¼ cup of puréed strawberries for 3-4 servings of vinaigrette.

Summer Peach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Delicate salad greens (try Boston, Bibb, or red leaf lettuce)
Peaches (1 for every two servings), thinly sliced
Walnut or pecan halves
Unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
¼ cup walnut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar (or granulated sugar)

Place lettuce in serving bowls and top with peaches, nuts, and sunflower seeds. Prepare the strawberry vinaigrette: place strawberries, oil, vinegar, and agave (or sugar) in blender and purée. Drizzle over salad.

Yield: ½ cup dressing, enough for 3-4 servings.

June 27, 2010

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The following recipe makes a great summer dessert using fresh carrots from your garden.



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Björn Runquist Summer Painting Workshops

Björn Runquist, featured artist in the 2009 #2 issue of Maine Food & Lifestyle Magazine’s Food of Art story, will be holding painting workshops in his summer home on Clark Island! Take an opportunity to learn something new or hone your artistic skills. Meet a genuinely nice person and talented artist!



Björn Runquist will host two painting workshops this summer at his home/studio, a 5 day, July 18-23, 2010 and a 3 day, August 22-25, 2010, in Clark Island, on the St. George peninsula. The workshop will be an introduction to the basics of plein-air painting, focusing on the dynamics of building a painting and the techniques of alla prima painting as well as employing the same techniques to paint from digital photos. Particular emphasis will be on capturing light and its use as a compositional element. The workshop is open to all levels.

Workshop #1 (5 Days) Monday – Friday, JULY 19-23, 2010
Workshop #2 (3 Days) WORKSHOP FULL (waiting list available) Monday-Wednesday August 23-25, 2010

For more information and to register, go to

“I was featured in the Fall 2009 issue of Maine Food and Lifestyle magazine ( It’s a nice informal piece about me, my work, my love for painting and for cooking!”- from Björn’s website.

June 26, 2010

Lobster Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie and lobster, two of my favorite foods, so why not merge the two and make something special like a lobster pot pie? My friend Pam makes the best chicken pot pie ever, and I am lucky enough to have her recipe, so that seems a good place to start. In looking over the ingredients, all will work, but I am going to change the vegetables, eliminating celery and carrots and including corn and potatoes since they traditionally accompany steamed lobster. Hmmm, maybe add a little dry sherry for extra pizzazz.

Pie ingredients

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June 25, 2010

White Port Refreshment

Wow, warm sunny days…we are getting spoiled. I fear though, I should not get used to this. I know some people are rolling their eyes at the word warm. These days have been downright hot! Here’s where I have to make a tiny confession. I’m not a true Mainer. I know the state is full of transplants and I am happily here now as one of them. I was born in Texas and although you couldn’t pay me to suffer through one of those summers, I admit I love these sweltering days! So while I’m listening to everyone else complain, I’m smiling away as I nod sympathetically as if I agree.

Alright, some of you are probably wondering what my point is, am I right?
Well when you’re sweating away, what is one of the best refreshers? A cocktail.


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June 23, 2010

A College Student’s Culinary Adventure

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been amazed by the dishes that come out of my grandma’s kitchen– homemade pizza every Friday night, deliciously sweet barbeque ribs, rich and milky potato soup, and, of course, melt-on-your-tongue chocolate chip cookies that the men in my family demolish the day they are made. Everything always looks so…professional.

ChelseaChelsea’s Cooking Education with Grandma Judy Sonksen (image by Marshall Sonksen)

I suppose that is because my cooking skills are limited to reheating leftovers (but trust me, I have skills with that microwave). And reheating leftovers has served me well thus far in my life. My parents make some pretty yummy dinners, and in turn, I have the same thing for lunch the next day. And at college, my 21-meals-a-week meal plan still keeps me sheltered from the culinary world. But, the moment has finally come when I am going to have to cook real food for myself. Next fall I will be studying at University College Cork in Ireland, and instead of a meal plan, I’ll have a kitchen. Yikes.

So I’ve called in my reinforcements, and decided to learn to cook from the best chef I know— my grandma. Every Tuesday this summer, my grandma and I will create a menu that I will learn to cook that night. I want to learn exotic things like sushi and pad thai, but my grandma keeps reminding me that I need to be practical. I don’t think I’ve ever been practical in my whole life. But she is right.

Last week was my very first cooking class, and I learned how to make baked chicken, green beans with bacon and potatoes, squash, and cornbread. Holy Toledo. We were running all over that kitchen, dicing and boiling and baking. Whoever knew cooking took such intense multi-tasking skills? Not me, that’s for sure. But we pulled it off, and my grandpa gave me an A on presentation and flavor. (I’m pretty sure he would have given me an A if I burnt the chicken to a crisp.)

Last night we made a dish that has always been a staple in my house—chili with popovers. Not only was it a particularly yummy menu, but it was also especially practical, as I can freeze some of the chili for a day when I don’t want to stand in front of the oven for an hour. Although it was a bit more complicated than the chicken, after lots of simmering, mixing, and tasting, it too was a success (and judging by Dad’s second and third helpings, my family agreed).

So, for all the other cooking-impaired college students like me, here is the recipe. It really isn’t hard, I promise. And it just so happens to be delicious.

Chiliimage of Chelsea’s Chili by Marshall Sonksen

Chili – makes enough for 10 servings (but don’t forget you can freeze it for later)

3 onions- chopped
2 pounds hamburger meat- 85% lean
2 big cans of hot chili beans
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons and 1½ teaspoons chili powder
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

1.  Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and put it on medium-high heat.
2.  Add chopped onions to oil.
3.  Squeeze hamburger in with onions- adding it in small pieces.
4.  Cook until the hamburger is no longer pink.
5.  Pour the whole mixture into a colander and drain the grease down the sink.
(Run hot water while you drain the grease so your pipes don’t clog.)
6.  Put hamburger and onions back in saucepan on stove.
7.  Add chili beans, salt, pepper, Tabasco, chili powder and all the cans of tomatoes.
(As I said, it makes a lot.)
8.  Simmer on low, stirring occasionally for an hour.

This post was written by Chelsea Sonksen, a junior at Colby College who is interning with Maine Food & Lifestyle this summer.

June 22, 2010

Aunt Harriet’s Crabmeat Quiche

This recipe was shared with me by Grace Leeman and Harriet Huff of Orr’s Island, Maine, known as the Thelma and Louise of their island. And if they say it’s good, it’s good!



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June 21, 2010

Twilight Cookbook’s Lobster Salad

As a food magazine editor, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting cookbooks. I frequently receive queries from publicists asking if I’d like a review copy of this or that new book. This is one of the many parts of my job that I enjoy, receiving so many wonderful cookbooks to review. If I ever have time to read anything but cookbooks, I will dive into the guilty pleasure that is the Twilight phenomenon.

For now, I will cut my teeth on the idea by thanking Gina Meyers for my copy of Love at First Bite: The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook and share with you the following introduction and recipe for lobster. Edward says, “Hold the garlic on this one. Please.”


“The international phenomenon known as Twilight fever has ignited excitement in the kitchen. Delectable delights to satisfy the appetites of the humans can be found in the fictional book Twilight. Love at First Bite: the Unofficial Twilight Cookbook is meant to offer a satisfying array of warm, lovely dishes that anyone of any age can cook with ease and enjoyment….Filled with forbidden love, action, and danger, so brace yourself, and bring your very best table manners and your appetites!”- intro from Twilight cookbook

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June 20, 2010

Switchel: Classic New England Haymaker’s Punch

Before Gatorade, there was switchel. A simplified version of ginger beer, this was the drink of choice for field workers.


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June 19, 2010

Fresh Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Vangie Peasley made pies for Bagaduce Lunch in Brooksville, Maine, for just about her entire life. She started when she was young, in the 1960s, when her parents owned the clam shack, and kept it up during the years that she and her husband ran the business. Day-to-day operations have now passed on to the third generation, and Vangie’s daughter, Judy Astbury, praises the memory of her Mom and her amazing strawberry-rhubarb pie. “She had to make the pies. No one else could even come close to being so good at it.”



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June 18, 2010

Friendship Sloop Society Celebrates 50th Annual Homecoming and Regatta

July 2010 will be the 50th Annual Homecoming and Regatta of the Friendship Sloop Society, and their 15th year racing in Rockland. Typically there are about 25 Sloops in Rockland for the regatta, but this year the group is attempting to have 50 Sloops join them on beautiful Penobscot Bay!


image courtesy of Friendship Sloop Society

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June 17, 2010

Mussels Linguine

This is a great-tasting mussel dish. I make it often, either with the wild mussels that live on our rocks and ledges or with Dave Hiltz’s rope-grown mussels from his float in the harbor. It’s also a nice recipe to know about if you happen to have cooked mussels left over from a mussel feast.

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June 16, 2010

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Finés Herbes & Cheddar Cheese

Finés Herbes is a blend of basil, chervil, tarragon, marjoram, and chives. There are many brands of this herb mixture marketed, a good one is Frontier, or you can make your own.



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June 15, 2010

Taste of the Nation

I remember being in elementary school and listening to Feed the World. Most of my favorite singers of the time were involved in that production in some way (I’m dating myself here). But I was lucky, because I was 11 years old and got to enjoy that song as nothing more. Just a song. But to the nearly 17 million children who live in a household that struggles to make food an important part of their lives, that song hits home. One in 5 American children will go to bed tonight hungry.


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June 14, 2010

Parsley’s Cousin Chervil

Motived once again by what I am using in my garden right now, I decided to research chervil and its uses.

Did you know that there is a National Chervil Board? Nor did I. I see the site has not been updated in a while, but I applaud their vision. Chervil is, as they put it, “an unjustly neglected herb.”

chervil image

chervil image above courtesy of

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June 13, 2010

Stocking the Summer Pantry

Ready, set go! Memorial Day has come and gone and summer season has officially begun. Here come the no-seeums (swat them away) and the yes-seeums (un-swattable houseguests). I never have any trouble coming up with breakfast or dinner menus but the mid-day meal is often catch as catch can, especially when you never know how many places to set at the patio table. Entertaining by the seat of your pants can be a tad overwhelming but can be managed with a little planning.



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Grilled Chicken Breast with Barbecue Glaze

A delicious way to cook chicken, and quite low fat as well!



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June 11, 2010

Historic Inns of Rockland: Lobster 101

Historic Inns of Rockland combine lobster hauling with lobster eating and lobster hats, all wrapped around a “lobsterishious” getaway to luxury Midcoast Maine inns.


image: While a chickadee may be the official bird of Maine, the lobster has to be the official mascot. Photo shows lobster caught on Captain Jack’s Lobster Adventure. Photo by PJ Walter.

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