Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Getting Out with the Kids (or by Your Lonesome)

It’s getting to be that time of year in Maine (yes, I mean the 2 or so days of summer – RUN – seize the day!) when the days are longer, the sun is out, the temps are up, and you want to be out and about with your children, if you have them, or just out and about period.

Courtesy of my Down East mag emails, I’m pleased to share Kid-Friendly Maine Day Trips, as well as a few of my own thoughts.  On the Down East list, I’d be particularly interested in Pemaquid Point and Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

There are so many wonderful opportunities in Maine to get outside and do something enjoyable – whether it’s active, educational, relaxing, or some other nice ‘ing.’  A few on my list:

Before we lived on the lake, my mom and my best friends’ mom would often pack us all up and make the drive to Tassel Top Beach on Sebago Lake in Raymond.  Hands down one of the best beach areas on Sebago, it offers about 900 feet of sandy beach, bordered on the land side by tall pines.  Grills and picnic tables are scattered along the beach and the trail behind it, and the beach also offers a Snack Shack.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are a fun and interesting good experience for the whole family – walking the grounds is good for you and informative for kids and adults alike.  Check out my post here.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention spending time by the sea… any oceanside beach at all would do.  You can choose to catch some rays, build a sand castle, or depending on time and opportunity, catch your own dinner.

How will you be spending time outdoors in Maine this summer?

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Cooking for Memorial Day: Maine Cookbook Recipes

With all of the excitement that Memorial Day brings (the start of summer!  Barbecues!  Long weekend!), it is important to reflect the true purpose of this holiday: it is a somber day of remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Having had a number of family members and friends who have served, the significance of this day is not lost on me, and I offer thanks and prayers to all of those whom this holiday is truly about.

I was incredibly fortunate to grow up as part of a close, large family.  This has instilled in me a love for holiday weekends because of the opportunity they present to gather together, and to enjoy good food, good drink, and good conversations with each other.  While these often potluck meals do tend to feature some high calorie, unhealthy menu items (burgers laden with cheese come to mind), in general, home cooking is much better for you than a meal eaten out.  The following sides and salads tend toward the healthy, with one final dessert recommendation that is decidedly unhealthy (but delicious!).

Here are a few possibilities for inclusion in your Memorial Day festivities:

Strawberry Spinach Salad, Maine Home Cooking, page 220
I’ve shared this salad in a weekly recipe post before, and it truly is delicious.  I recommend adding some goat cheese and going with balsamic vinegar for in the dressing – the combination of sweet, tart, and creamy really complements the wholesome spinach.

A Dilly of a Pickled Beet Salad, Dishing Up Maine, page 69
Nick loves beets, and ever since we joined our local CSA, The Dirt Farmers, I’ve been including them in our order almost weekly.  I haven’t made this one yet, but it’s a guaranteed hit in our house:

For 4 servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 lb beets of uniform size, trimmed
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Simple Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe below this one)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Cook beets in a pot of salted water until tender when pierced with a sharp knife (30-45 minutes, depending on size).  Drain and allow to cool, then peel and slice into a bowl.

Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, dill seeds, and salt to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan.  Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and pour the hot liquid over the beets, stirring gently to combine.

This salad is meant to be served at room temperature or cool, so refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to one week.  Before serving, remove the beets from the pickling liquid, drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with dill.  Enjoy!

Simple Shallot Vinaigrette, page 58

  •  2 shallots, minced (3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients together, adding oil last.  Refrigerate and use as needed, up to one week.

Salad of tomato, feta, and basil with kalamata vinaigrette, Maine Summers Cookbook, page 159
Coming appropriately from my summertime cookbook, this salad looks right up my alley… easy, quick, and tasty:

For 4 servings, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cubed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and minced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Mix the tomatoes and basil by hand in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and olives until well blended.  Pour the oil mixture over the tomato mixture and toss to coat.  Toss in the feta cheese and serve at room temperature.

Whoopie Pies, Maine Home Cooking, page 70
The whoopie pie is a classic Maine dessert guaranteed to make you the hit of the party.  And they’re really not as hard as they look to make!  This is another recipe I’ve previously blogged about: Whoopie for Whoopie Pies

Here’s to a Memorial Day weekend of delicious food and even better company!


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Summer is Coming!

With Memorial Day weekend a mere five days away, summer is marching ever closer in the great state of Maine (although as Mainers, we all know how unpredictable the next 2-3 weeks can actually be in terms of summer weather).

Personally, I am incredibly excited for my first summer vacation in Maine in close to, maybe more than, five years (wedding planning trips don’t count – hard to believe that was almost five years ago).  But my trip is still more than a month away, while yours may be just around the corner, so this post will be the first of two Memorial Day themed posts.  Today we’ll focus on what to do… then, in another post in the next few days, we’ll focus on a recipe or two that will make a great addition to your Memorial Day feast.

  • Go for a ride at Old Orchard Beach’s Palace Playland: http://www.palaceplayland.com/
    (just remember to eat your Pier Fries AFTER… unless you have a stomach of steel)
  • Get your golf game on at Sugarloaf, opening May 22: http://sugarloaf.com/summer
  • Visit York Beach, Maine: named the number one New England vacation spot for Memorial Day, it offers lots to do (zoo / amusement park, two beaches, shopping and dining) all while surrounded by quintessential Maine charm.
  • If you like a few less people (as I tend to), I suggest a hike or a picnic (or both): if you venture to Northeast Harbor, Maine, you’ll be within moments of the hustle and bustle and amusements of Acadia, but distant enough to enjoy some peace and quiet.  Other options include: Evans Notch Road, Blueberry Mountain, and many more.
  • Visit a working lighthouse in South Portland: Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is offering the rare opportunity to step into history and tour an active lighthouse during their open house, 11am – 3pm, Saturday, May 23rd.

There are many, many more things to do in Maine than can be captured in one list or even twenty.  One of the reasons I’m most grateful that I grew up there is all of the experiences I was exposed to.  If you’re an outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman), there are multiple sports for every season; if you’re an art and culture lover, there’s no end to the history and creativity you can find; if you like to eat… well, we all know there’s plenty of good eatin’. Ahh, happy summer.

Enjoy your time in Maine, and drop me a line to tell me about it!


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Mother’s Day in Maine

Mother’s Day is this weekend – Sunday, May 10th – for those of you who may have missed that despite the many headlines and advertisements for flowers, candies, and other goodies.

I’m fortunate to have a mother who was a parent as I was growing up, and is a friend as well as my mom now that I’m “grown up” (which is sometimes debatable).  I needed her to be a parent and not a friend during those challenging years when I, like most tweens and teens, believed fitting in was the highest priority in my life.  Thanks Mom!

Here are just a few ideas for a fun Mother’s Day spent in Maine:

Dining Out: there’s a plethora of fabulous dining in Portland, whether you’re looking for upscale, a gastropub, or fast casual, so I’m not boring you with a list of restaurants – but just this tip: make a reservation!  Don’t risk Mom getting “hangry” on her special day.  If you do need a guide, here you go: http://mainetoday.com/eat-drink/dining-guide-where-to-take-mom-on-mothers-day/

Treat Mom to a great cup o’ Joe: with Coffee by Design’s Coffee with Mom Gift Box you can treat Mom to her caffeine fix AND support a good cause: One dollar ($1) from each pound of coffee sold benefits Women, Work & Community (WWC), a statewide training organization helping Maine women and men succeed in their workplace, business, and community.

Take Mom for a run?:  Think this one through.  If your mom is a runner / fitness fanatic, she might enjoy getting her jog on before brunch.  The Portland Sea Dogs are hosting a Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) 5K with funds being split between the Cancer Community Center and the Maine Cancer Foundation.

Activity Day: Right now, Sunday’s weather is anticipated to be between 55 – 70 degrees and mostly sunny.  Sounds beautiful, so why not make a day of it?  Start with breakfast in bed, progress to a sunny park for a picnic lunch, and conclude with a bit of indulgent shopping / strolling / sipping in the great Old Port.

You can also check out this Bangor Daily News article for 11 Mother’s Day gift ideas from Maine (I like the bag, myself!): http://bangordailynews.com/2015/05/06/news/state/11-gift-ideas-from-maine-for-mothers-day/

Whether it’s for Mother’s Day or a future special date (birthday, anniversary, etc.), consider giving Mom the gift of safe and effective beauty with Beautycounter, a company whose mission is to get safe products into the hands of everyone: http://www.beautycounter.com/elizavaughn

Happy Mother’s Day, all you special moms out there!