Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Clam It Up in Yarmouth

Oh boy!! Next weekend brings to you my very favorite Maine summer event, the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Kicking off on Friday, July 17th, the Festival ushers in three days of fun and food, great for all ages.

I may actually squeeze in a visit this year (which is VERY exciting), before a big 50th anniversary celebration for my aunt and uncle at the beautiful Black Point Inn. In case I don’t, let me reminisce and share a few and recommendations now:

The arts and crafts show still stands as one of the best I’ve attended. Rows of original artwork and quality home craftsmanship stretch across the North Yarmouth Academy Lawn and are well-worth a visit, Friday and Saturday 10am – 9pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Ladies, I’m thinking of you when I recommend the Firefighters’ Muster (wink), held on Saturday from 1pm – 330pm on Main Street at Memorial Green.

Naturally, there’s an impressive and varied selection of clams, other fried foods, and I imagine somewhere in the mix, something ‘healthy.’

There are road races, fun runs, live music, cooking demonstrations, carnival rides, and much more. Bring the sunscreen, family, and friends and be ready for a great time!

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Maine Summer Favorite: The Yarmouth Clam Festival

What is summer in Maine all about to this girl?  The Yarmouth Clam Festival!  I’m not confident that I’ll be able to adequately describe what has made this festival so special to me, but I’ll do my best.

Always beginning on the third Friday in July, this year The Yarmouth Clam Festival will be Friday, July 19th – Sunday, July 21st.  It’s been several years since I’ve attended the festival (living in NC has put a damper on that), but I remember going every year, or close to it, as a child, teen, and young adult.  For me, the atmosphere at the festival embodies the best of Maine and its people – it’s welcoming and relaxed, while bustling with attendees and activities.  It highlights arts and crafts, local musicians, and dishes up great food all prepared by Yarmouth-based non-profits – so when you’re buying those fried clams, you’re also making a donation.

With family scattered throughout southern Maine, it’s no real surprise that one of my mom’s siblings settled in Yarmouth – my Aunt Nancy and her husband, my Uncle Chris.  Their home in Yarmouth was one of my favorite houses to visit – old, big, and rambling, I used to love venturing from room to room.  It was also conveniently located for parking and walking to the festival – whether we all went together or as smaller groups.  Admission to the festival is free, which is something I simply took for granted before but I now recognize as unusual and special, and all proceeds from food booths and parking lots support Yarmouth’s non-profit student, sporting, music, church, and community service organizations.

What I remember most vividly about attending the festival as a child is wandering along row after row of arts and crafts booths.  While we certainly enjoyed numerous carnival rides, watched the parade, listened to live music, and indulged in a variety of foods, the simple pleasure of browsing through pretty things in th0se booths stands out boldly in my memory.  It’s a lovely, relaxing way to spend a bit of time on a Maine summer day – drifting from booth to booth – supporting these local artists.  Then, when you’re ready for a meal and more excitement – you simply trek over to the food booths and grab a plate.

At this festival, I typically go for fried clams and french fries with a nice dose of salt and vinegar, but there are plenty of other options including non-seafood items.  In addition to food, crafts, and music, the festival has a number of events – check out the schedule here – including a parade on Friday night, a five-mile road race and kids’ fun run on Saturday, canoe and kayak races, and of course, the Maine State Clam Shucking Contest.

Maine is full of hard working, dedicated people who are always ready to offer a warm welcome to a newcomer.  Perhaps it’s this sense of welcome and community that makes The Yarmouth Clam Festival one of my favorite events.  I hope you’ll go and experience it for yourself!


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Weekly Recipe: Fried Scallops

As I prepared to do my grocery shopping yesterday, I was focused on two things for last night’s meal: I wanted it to be fish or seafood, and I wanted it to use a recipe from my newest Maine cookbook, Good Maine Food (newest to me – it was first published in 1939, and subsequently updated – the most recent update being a new foreword by Sandra Oliver and recipe notes by Kenneth Roberts, published by Down East in 2010).  This cookbook is truly an encyclopedia on traditional Maine food.  In addition to Maine Home Cooking, it was a birthday gift from my mom and dad – you can thank them for keeping your weekly recipes stocked!

When I came across the recipe for fried scallops on page 103, I was quickly sold.  Scallops are one of my husband’s favorite foods (as well as one of mine), and this recipe seemed both delicious and speedy – both important week night elements.  Initially, I was intimidated because I don’t ‘fry’ things very often – but then, I thought, what better opportunity to get over my fear of frying than for my blog?  So here goes…

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb. scallops
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Crumbled crackers (or bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs and added a few crumbled crackers)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fat (or oil) for frying (I used olive oil and a bit of butter)

Wash scallops and pat dry.  Dip scallops in beaten egg, and then in rolled cracker crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.

Coating with egg... this part was a little gross and slimy.

Coating with egg… this part was a little gross and slimy.

Fry in deep fat, 385 degrees, 2 minutes, and serve with either Tartare sauce or with half a lemon to each portion.  This recipe serves 4.

Fry, fry away!

Fry, fry away!

I cut the recipe in half, wanting only 2 servings, and as a side, I wilted some spinach.  This would be perfect with a side of homemade fries.  The wilted spinach was good (and healthy), it seemed out of place next to the fried seafood.

The tasty (and pretty golden brown) results!

The tasty (and pretty golden brown) results!

A few lessons learned: the skillet I used was too large, so I had trouble getting the oil level high enough (I made it work, but it could have been better); I also think my temperature was too low, although not by much (the scallops took a bit longer than 2 minutes); and the batter could have stood a little bit more salt (my husband may disagree – he calls me the “seasoning queen” because I love to season – and sometimes overdo it!).  Regardless, the end results were even better than I hoped.  Nick and I both felt the flavor and texture of the scallops with the Panko breading was excellent, and this recipe will be used over and over again in our house.