The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest was held last week, complete with the improbable “Pumpkin Regatta” where contestants race their boats of hollowed-out pumpkins across the Damariscotta River. Unsurprisingly, many don’t make it to the finish line!
We missed the festivities, but made it a week later for some of those fabulous Damariscotta oysters at the comfy King Eider’s Pub and to check out the entries in last week’s pumpkin decorating competition. Some of these beasts approach 500 pounds, so their decoration requires both artistic skill and a strong back! Here are some of our favorites (click on thumbnail to enlarge):
Winslow Homer, Weatherbeaten. Photo courtesy of Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Museum of Art has mounted a comprehensive new exhibit of the later works of Winslow Homer, timed to coincide with the opening of Homer’s restored studio on Prout’s Neck, south of Portland. The 38 major oils, watercolors, and etchings, many of which are dramatic views of the sea from Prout’s Neck, are on loan from museums across the country. The exhibit runs until December 30. The studio can be visited by guided tour and access is by bus from the museum; reservations must be made in advance. We have scheduled a visit to the studio later in the month and will report on it in a subsequent post.
Two more examples of paintings in the exhibit (click on thumbnail to enlarge):
The taste of Autumn: pumpkin muffins with apple butter and a glass of fresh cider.
Carolyn tried a new fall muffin recipe this morning and it was a hit. Here’s the reccipe:
Grease 12 muffin tins. Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together following dry ingredients in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups chopped dates or dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped in large pieces
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
In separate bowl, whisk together the following wet ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
Gently blend wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do not overmix! It’s okay if a bit of flour remains unmixed. Fill muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and toothpick pushed into center of muffin comes out clean. Let rest in pan 5 minutes before removing to rack.
There’s a new oyster bar in Portland, started in the last couple of months by the folks who now run Hugo’s Restaurant — an area temple of high cuisine. It’s called the Eventide Oyster Company, and there are wonderful things on the menu, like a new take on lobster rolls, a fried oyster bun, etc. But the real thing here is the oysters on the half shell — 6 or 8 varieties from the chilly Maine waters (emphasizing our favorites from Damariscotta), and an equal number “from away” — some as far away as Kumatomo oysters from Washington State. The center of interest when you enter is a huge stone sink filled with ice and oysters. Picnic tables and bar stools. This isn’t a formal place. But the oysters are fabulous, as are the other entries we tried. Highly recommended.
Here’s a link to the menu (click again on the link):
We copied the recipe for this great cake back in the 1970’s from the New York Times and it became a family favorite. It has since been reprinted in Amanda Hesser’s Essential New York Times Cookbook, apparently an all-time favorite with Times readers as well. We serve it for breakfast in the fall, always to rave reviews. (It also makes a great dessert, served with vanilla ice cream). In case you don’t have the cookbook, here’s the recipe.
Teddy’s Apple Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups peanut, vegetable, or corn oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
1. Heat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and soda.
2. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer for 5 minutes. Add eggs and beat until creamy. Sir in dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out.
It’s August and the wild blueberries are in season. Time for us to make our usual 3 1/2 gallons, enough to last us until next year’s crop comes in. A big job, made easier with a food processor. We basically make blueberry jam and can it in quart jars. When we need syrup (for those great pancakes) we just dump the jam into the food processor and add enough orange juice to thin it into the right consistency and whir it just until the lumps of jam are gone.
Carolyn makes 2 or 3 batches at a time (despite what it says on the pectin package!)
Filling the jars — careful, it’s HOT!
We’ve had several requests for this recipe — another of Carolyn’s desserts that work well at breakfast, too. This old-fashioned recipe is easy and delicious. (Pardon the pictures; I’m just getting used to a new lens and use of natural light — and no time for a tripod.)
Grease a 9×13 pyrex baking pan. Heat oven to 375.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups small Maine blueberries (frozen is fine — Wyman’s are great)
Blend together the sugar and cornstarch. Pour orange juice into a saucepan large enough to hold the juice and the berries. Add the sugar/cornstarch mixture and whisk over medium heat until the mixture has thickened. Add berries and bring to a boil. Cool. (This mixture may be prepared the day before making the cake.)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 large eggs
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Whisk the above wet ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Gently stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients just until mixed. Spread this batter into the greased pan. Spoon the blueberry mixture evenly over the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving, but it is best while still warm from the over. Serve with whipped cream (or, if for dessert, vanilla ice cream). Yield: 12-15 portions; recipe may be halved for a 9×9 baking pan.
Spooning blueberry mixture over batter
Ready for the oven
- Just waiting for the whipped cream
The biannual Festival of the Arts was held this past Sunday (July 22) on the lovely grounds of The Mooring B&B. Dozens of local artists and artisans contributed, as well as Georgetown musicians. The day was spectacular and the event, as always, memorable.
Of course, the annual Independence Day parade in Georgetown is the highpoint of summer (see photos of the 2010 parade here.) But there are other events on the social calendar. Last weekend was the annual Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department Auction. The auction provides a opportunity to pick up things you didn’t know you needed or wanted (and which you can donate to the auction next year…) But there is always an amazing array of “good stuff,” including paintings by local artists, antique furniture, boats of various sizes and means of locomotion, etc. Here are a couple of shots that give a flavor of the event:
The auctioneers are always entertaining
And the audience is always attentive
Another Midcoast summer event is the annual “Salad Days,” a fundraiser for the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, in Newcastle — just across the bridge from Wiscasset. Watershed is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving ceramic artists a place to hone their art, work in association with other potters and — for one talented individual each year — a year of full financial and artistic support at the center. In exchange, this artist creates several hundred individual salad plates which form the basis of the Salad Days event. For a $30 donation, attendees receive a plate of their choice, upon which they can then heap salads prepared by local restaurants, caterers, and the center staff. There is music (a talented bluegrass band played this year), an invitational show and sale of ceramics by artists associated with the center, and tours of the facility. A couple of pictures, taken by iphone and a bit fuzzy:
Come early for the best selection of the plates (if you come too late, they may be sold out).
This year’s selection of plates
And you get to use the plate right away!
The selection of salads