Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Maine Memories

We did more in Maine than just eat lobster rolls. We hiked, biked, explored and ate some other things too. Here are some of the highlights.

We arrived after dark at our cabin at Beloins and had no idea what to expect. But we woke up to this:

And couldn't be any closer to the water without being on a boat. I wanted to stay a month:

We explored the Camden area:

Then we went to Bar Harbor and stayed at the Yellow House:

Ate popovers on the lawn at the Jordan Pond House restaurant in Acadia National Park:

Rented the last four bikes in Bar Harbor, after an obscenely giant cruise ship appeared one morning and nearly thwarted our plans by booking up almost every bike in town:

Picked up a delicious picnic for our bike ride on the Acadia Carriage Roads at the Morning Glory Bakery. An army of clone granola girls made delicious sandwiches here. We ordered Laila and Ralphy, grilled veggies/goat cheese and curry chicken salad respectively:

After riding all over the park, we chomped our 'licious sammies overlooking this view:

Overall, we toured many stunning views and vistas all over Camden and Mt Desert Island and went home relaxed, exhausted...and full.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

West Coast Dreaming

I was going to practice yoga and post more pics of our Maine adventure on the blog tonight, but then I got home, got the mail, and found this waiting for me:

My first Pacific Northwest version of Sunset magazine! Instead, now I'm going to sit on the balcony with a glass of wine and devour this magazine from cover to cover and dream about the day when we can ditch this steamy town and plant our roots in Seattle
. For good measure I'll look through the REI sale catalog too so I can come equipped with location-appropriate clothes and new toys to play with when we get there.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

6 Days and 5 Lobster Rolls

Last week, my husband and I flew up to Maine for a six day vacation in Camden and Bar Harbor. My parents came in from Washington State to join us on the adventure and we had a great time visiting, hiking, biking, and exploring coastal Maine. Most of all we had a great time eating! Our goal was to eat at least one lobster roll a day. (And I would have accomplished this if it weren't for the slow line at Red's Eats and the night I had ice cream for dinner instead.) Here is a retrospective of our mission of devouring mouth-watering rolls.

Roll #1: The Porthole Portland, Maine
Roll: B-. Not actually a roll, but a Lobsta Sandwich. The toasted brioche was too flimsy and greasy to support the generous portion of lobster. And the addition of mayonnaise to the lobster detracted from the delicate flavor.
Accompaniments: Fries, A+
Other Notes: Despite the prominent exterior sign. This establishment sells Pepsi products only.

Roll #2: Maine Lobster Festival Rockland, Maine
Roll: B+. I felt the preparation of this roll was hasty due to the high volume of the festival. But it was pure lobster and butter on an untoasted bun with no lettuce, and you can't go too wrong with that.
Accompaniments: N/A
Other Notes: Festival atmosphere and people watching was a fun bonus.

Roll #3: Maine Lobster Festival Rockland, Maine
Roll: N/A. This is actually a lobster taco, so I can't rate it on the same scale as the rolls, but it was pretty good. Complaints: the iceberg lettuce was overpowering to the texture of the lobster and could have been better shredded and the spicy salsa also overwhelmed the lobster slightly.
Accompaniments: N/A
Other Notes: Look how adorable the lobster shack is! Also, if you look close you can see my cute lobster flip flops my mom got me from LL Bean.

Roll #4: Thurston's Lobster Pound Bernard, Maine on Mt Desert Island
Roll: A+. Copious lobster, dressed in butter only, fresh, toasted bun, perfect amount of green leaf lettuce.
Accompaniments: Coleslaw, meh. Now that I've had my mother-in-law's coleslaw, all others pale in comparison. Though this was decent. Chips and cold beer, win!
Other Notes: Set on a pier in a working harbor with a screened in porch to veil diners from voracious mosquitoes,
the atmosphere of this place only adds to the deliciousness. There is an open tank of lobsters right at the order counter, and while we were waiting a young child squealed "Nooo, don't kill the lobsters!" eliciting a chuckle from the crowd. He was clearly in the wrong place. Or planted there by PETA. We were undeterred.

Roll #5: Portland Lobster Company Portland, Maine
Roll: A. Copious lobster, dressed in butter only, fresh, mixed greens.
Accompaniments: Fries, B+. Nice and hot.
Other Notes: Great place to get our farewell lobster roll before leaving Maine and end on a high note.

Red's Eats Wiscasset, Maine
Disqualified. We stood in this line for almost an hour before giving up because we didn't want to get to our cabin in Camden too late. We left hungry and disappointed. We tried again on the way out of town, but the line was even longer. This may have been Maine's best lobster roll, but we will never know. Darn you elusive Red's lobster roll

Key Lime Love

I am so proud of this pie. It's actually simple to make, even for someone like me, who panics or screams every time I walk into the kitchen. Thankfully, I had my mom visiting from out of town to advise me on this one, and to make the crust, so I can't take all the credit. But I'm still proud of our accomplishment. We used the traditional key lime pie recipe, but were unable to find real key limes so used five Persian limes instead. Here's the recipe and what we did:

Key Lime Pie
16 graham crackers, crushed (I recommend using 12 or 13 for a thinner crust)
3 tablespoons sugar (I recommend using sugar to taste)
1 cube (1/4 lb) margarine or butter

4 large or extra large egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (approximately 12 Key limes—or, in our case, 5 Persian limes)
2 teaspoons grated lime peel, green portion only (careful with your fingers!)

Whipped Cream For Garnish
1/2 cup whipping cream
Sugar to Taste

Like I said, Mom made the crust (thanks Mom!). She took the 16 graham crackers and put them between two sheets of plastic wrap and smashed them up with a rolling pin. We also have one of those small food processors, but who wants to wash that after pulverizing the crackers? Not me. And poor Mom was already doing our dishes while she was here. So she smashed up the crackers, mixed them with the cube of melted butter and a tiny bit of sugar (the crackers are already so sweet 3 tablespoons really isn't necessary). Then she pressed all the crust into our 9-inch pie plate. At this point we realized that 16 crackers was just too much. So we spooned some out into a bowl and snacked on it with a spoon. Not quite brownie batter, but still a tasty snack for keeping the blood sugar even while I'm stressed in the kitchen. Then we baked the crust at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. (Side note: did you know that graham crackers were invented in 1829 by a Presbyterian minister who believed bland food would diminish the libido?)

After I had hand-squeezed all the limes and zested the 2 teaspoons of lime peel with only minimal grater damage to my left pointer finger, it was time for me to put together the filling. I had already learned my lesson about cracking eggs into the bowl while running the mixer the time I was making the peach custard pie for my mother-in-law and had to sieve the entire mixture to make sure there were no egg shells in it. (I hope she thought it was part of the recipe.) This time I carefully separated the egg yolks over seperate bowls until I was sure they were perfect. Then I beat the egg yolks with my shiny, red handmixer. You have to be careful not to overmix because your pie will have the consistency of a rubber flip-flop. Fortunately my mom stood nearby supervising and instructing me to keep beating the yolks until they looked just the color of butter. I was skeptical that this would ever happen, but sure enough it did. Then you mix in the condensed milk, lime juice, and zest and pour it into the prepared pie crust. After just 10 more minutes in the oven we had a delicious key lime dessert. We topped ours with hand whipped whip cream and little lime garnishes. (Side note: Did you know the key lime pie was invented as a use for a surplus of sweetened condensed milk in Key West?)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grrrrr, Bark, Woof.

My Swedish Obsession

I am obsessed with all things Swedish. I love Swedish design, the Swedish landscape, the Swedish lifestyle, the Swedish Chef. I like to lie and tell people my husband is Swedish (sorry B). Sweden is the number one place on my travel bucket list.

Lingonberries are high on my Swedish obsession list since it's my way to feel like I'm doing something Swedish without leaving home. I've found the best lingonberries are from IKEA. The other options pictured here are good alternatives that I found at World Market, if IKEA isn't easily accessible. The FELIX brand is actually from Sweden, but I found the consistency more like jam and the d'Arbo All Natural option is quite good and has a great whole lingonberry texture.

But now, when I make the occasional trip to IKEA, I buy Sylt Lingon in bulk so that I always have enough lingonberries for my Weekend Waffle fix.

Peaches, Okra, and Red Eggplant

I've been loving the Alexandria Farmer's Market this summer. On the two occasions I've gotten up early enough to get there. It starts at 6 and ends by 10. But let's face it 10 is just way to early for me to be expected to be out of the house on a Saturday morning.

Look at these amazing yummy peaches! My favorite summer food.

I loved the presentation of these yellow squash and okra. I didn't buy the okra though, I'm just not that Southern yet. It's so slimy!
Tubers of all kinds! Have you ever seen a red eggplant? That's what the sign claims those red items are in the center of the photo... but I'm suspicious.