During the season, Carolyn makes fruit crisp at least once a week for the breakfast “fruit course.” The recipe came from Tom’s mother, on an index card entitled “Apple dessert.” But in the spirit that every fruit dessert deserves to be served at breakfast, we serve it throughout the summer and fall, featuring a mix of whatever fruit is in season. Of course, it works wonderfully as a dessert, especially with a scoop of ice cream!
peach-blueberry crisp (our favorite)
Crisp topping (this can be made in larger quantities and stored in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator). Mix together:
3/4 cup old-fashioned (not instant) rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3 – 4 cups fresh (and/or frozen) fruit, sliced: peaches, nectarines, blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, plums, cherries, etc. (you can also add dried fruit — cranberries, cherries, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350. Gently mix the fruit in a large bowl. Fill 6 baking cups or small souffle dishes or an 8-inch square baking dish about 3/4 full with the fruit mixture. Spread the topping on the fruit, pressing it down gently. Bake 35 – 40 minutes, until bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Up close and personal with a Galapagos tortoise
We spent about ten days in late February in Ecuador — three days in the mountain highlands (over 9000 feet) in the hills above Otavalo, and a week cruising the Galapagos islands. The mainland part of our trip introduced us to native crafts (especially weaving), spectacular scenery that includes volcanoes on the ecuator topped with snow year-round, and cool spring-like temperatures. The Galapagos — a 90 minute flight away from Quito — were something else altogether. We sailed the islands in a catamaran with 11 guests and a crew of 6. The trip was labeled as “adventure” and we kayaked, snorkeled, and hiked our way through the islands. Truly an extraordinary experience. The wildlife were as tame and fascinating as we were led to expect, the scenery much more beautiful, and the kayaking and snorkeling truly amazing. We snorkeled with playful sea lions, sea turtles, rays, sharks (even hammerheads!), and — of course — a rainbow’s worth of tropical fish. Here are a couple of our Galapagos pics. If you’re interested in seeing more, we put together a photo album on Snapfish that you can see here.
Ferocious baby sea lion attacking Tom
- They liked to play in the water, too
The peaceable kingdom
Just when the piles and drifts of winter snow were almost melted, and the daffodils were tentatively poking through the ground, we got an early spring pounding! This year’s winter has been long and harsh; last year, it was warm and short. Never a dull or predictable moment here on the Maine coast. We’re pretty sure, however, that the snow will be gone in time for our season opening on May 20….
Two signs of the approach of Spring: First, though there is still a lot of snow on the lawn down to the cove, you can actually see the ground here and there. And I just detected the first stirrings of daffodils on the hill above our front door (they won’t bloom, however, for another six weeks). Here’s a late afternoon pic I shot yesterday:
(very) early spring at Coveside
The other sign of spring is the annual reopening of the iconic “Fat Boy” drive-in on the old Bath-Brunswick road. Great greasy burgers, frappes, fries, and car hops [are you old enough to remember car hops?] to deliver them to your car! Here’s a link to a story on the event in the Bangor Daily News. And here are some pics of Fat Boy in the summer that I found on the web, along with the following comment: “Going to Brunswick, Maine, set me back in time where drive ins still exist and manners never went out of fashion. I can only make reference b/c I used to watch Happy Days growing up as a kid. If you like burgers, fries, and nice sweet young girls serving you in your car – it’s never to late to go to Fatboy and enjoy your Happy Days.” Can summer be far away?
Summer at the Fat Boy
Busy car hops prepping trays for delivery
Down the cove
We’ve been confined to quarters all day, as the most recent January Nor’easter has moved up the coast to Maine. We got about a foot of snow and gale-force winds; a great day to say inside and deal with unfinished business (like starting that book you received for the holidays, or baking some bread).
Winter day at Coveside
Acadia National Park
Coveside closed for the season on October 17, and after our annual “work weekend” with friends to winterize the inn, we took a short (two-night) trip to Bar Harbor for some R&R. We had hoped to hike trails in Acadia National Park and reacquaint ourselves with a region we haven’t had the chance to visit since we opened the bed and breakfast 13 years ago. The weather was pretty disappointing, however – steady rain during our only full day, and fog on our final morning. We did manage a short (4 mile) hike up Gorham Mountain, where we had a brief aerial view of the coastline before the fog returned.
The trail began easily enough
But the trail degenerated to a rock scramble at the Cadillac Cliffs
This is a trail?
More of the Cadillac Cliffs “trail”
Sand beach from Gorham Mountain
When we reached the top it looked like the fog was about the clear; but, alas, it soon returned with a vengeance.
We stayed at a spectacular B&B in Bar Harbor — the Bass Cottage Inn. Located in a quiet neighborhood of grand old “cottages,” it is just a short walk to the waterfront and the town’s many shops and restaurants. The innkeepers, Jeff and Teri Anderholm, have lovingly restored the hundred-year-old summer home to its former grandeur. Their hospitality and good taste permeate the place; the public spaces and guest rooms (some with fireplaces and water views) are both elegant and welcoming; and the breakfasts were excellent. The quiet location and peaceful charm of this inn is a welcome antidote to the hurlyburly of Bar Harbor. Also highly recommended (by us, and by reports on Trip Advisor) are the two restaurants we visited for dinner: Mache Bistro and Town Hill Bistro.
An elegant Italian dessert that we serve with fruit at breakfast, panna cotta is light and delicious anytime. It’s also easy to make!
Panna cotta with fresh peaches and blueberries
2 3/4 tsp gelatin
1/4 cup cool water
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Soften gelatin in water. Combine cream and sugar in saucepan and heat just to a boil. Off heat, stir in softened gelatin until fully dissolved. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Divide among 8 molds (I use solo plastic cups – see the picture at the side — because of the interesting ridges, but any small mold will do.) Refrigerate at least four hours.
To serve, briefly dip molds in hot water and invert on serving plate. You may have to rap them sharply to get them to unmold. If they remain in the mold, put them back in the hot water for another ten seconds or so.
Panna Cotta with blueberry sauce and raspberries
Serve with seasonal fresh fruit (such as berries, peaches, plums, etc) and/or fruit sauces. 8 servings.
I’m experimenting later this week with a pumpkin panna cotta; I’ll put the recipe on the blog if it works!
Black and white beauties
Last weekend we attended the annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine, about an hour’s drive north of Coveside. The fair is sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the oldest and largest organization of organic food producers in the United States. The event — the largest such fair in America — is a grand harvest celebration, complete with everything usually associated with state fairs, except perhaps horse racing and a midway. The twist is that all the agricultural products are organic, the exhibitors emphasize earth-friendly products and processes, and the typical fair-goers resemble refugees (of various ages) from the 1960s. This would be a great place to recruit entrants for a Willy Nelson look-alike contest.
A major attraction is the food — scores of venders selling everything from organic beef hamburgers and pulled pork, to vegetarian brick-oven pizza, to organic gelato, to fabulous fried potatoes, to foreign food. Some examples:
Check out the bags of potatoes!
Chai tea and other Indian delicacies
Among the livestock at the fair we especially liked the oxen:
Note the coiffed tail!
These animals were beautified from all sides.
Ginger spice cookies
Fall is upon us, and it’s time to move from our summer standby in the dining room cookie jar — oatmeal raisin cookies — to ginger spice cookies. (We always have chocolate chip cookies on hand).
2 cups sugar, plus additional for rolling cookies
1/2 cup unsulphured (dark) molasses
1 cup vegetable (preferably canola) oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons cloves
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In bowl of electric mixer, beat together sugar, molasses, and eggs until blended. Beat in oil. Mix together remaining dry ingredients and gradually beat into wet ingredients. Mixture will be dry; you may need to mix the final amount of the flour mixture by hand if you don’t have a heavy-duty mixer.
Pull off walnet-sized pieces of dough and roll in your hands into a ball; roll in granulated sugar and place on cookie sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Don’t put too close together as they expand in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until cracks form on surface of the cookie. Do not overcook. Makes about 4 dozen cookies
Hurricane Igor passed Maine, far out in the Atlantic, but the resulting swells and rip currents were impressive. Here’s some shots of Mile Beach at Reid State Park, taken at low (!) tide.