Sunday, July 29, 2012

Belleau Kitchen Cookbook Challenge

Dom at Belleau Kitchen has challenged us to invite you into our homes and show your our cookbook collections. Now, I have to warn you, my kitchen is unfinished and there are lots of projects which I'm trying to complete by November 1st - that's my "official" deadline!

Below are are a few photos of my cookbooks, which is where I get most of my inspiration from. My interests have varied over the years.  Sometimes I'll just sit down with a coobook and read through it as if it were a novel!  I believe they all tell a story.

I really enjoy healthy cooking, such as a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern, whole grains and vegetarian diet. I also enjoy collecting antique cookbooks, rewriting family recipes, and inventing my own recipes - all with the hope of writing my own cookbook some day.

As I mentioned above, we've remodeled the kitchen, you can't imagine how horrible it was when we moved in.  

Let me take you on the tour.  This bookcase holds some Polish stoneware that I use frequently, my canister set, my favorite series of William Sonoma cookbooks, my Ina books, an antique recipe box, some pitchers that are used a lot and some international cookbooks.

Below is a wide angle view of the kitchen.  As you can see the walls & trim need to be painted, and the tile backsplash needs to be put up.  I have everything, now I need to get it done!  LOL!  In this picture you can see my island, that I love and I make all my recipes on.  Behind me is my Kitchen-Aid mixer (xoxo), dishwasher, sink and range - which I love!  My husband referes to it as "Mary's Harley"  . . . 

This is the view opposite the island.  I like to keep the wine rack stocked!  Below the wine rack is my speed cook.  I can microwave, bake and broil in that baby!  She's a real work horse!

Around the corner is my family room which contains a bookcase that we had built when we remodeled the family room.  As you can see, this bookcase is stuffed!  I try to keep it organized, but it's a job!  LOL!!!  In front of that bookcase is an oak server that has a stack of books that need to be distributed - somehow!  In my header is a photo of 2 yellow chairs, they are next to this bookcase, and sometimes I'll sit there and look through my cookbooks!  

In this photo we've just had this bookcase and coat-rack added.  As you can see, my gown, hood and cords from my graduation are still hanging where I left them when I came home after graduation. If you look closely at the bookcase you'll see my mortar board with the tassel landed on the third shelf!

This is still a work in progress, but I couldn't wait to add some cookbooks and family treasures to see how they'd look.  On the top shelf is a Lenox sleigh that was my moms, and below that is a blue teapot that she received at her bridal shower.  You'll also see some cookbooks, pans and dishes that I use frequently.  I have plans to have cookbooks on every shelf!

Opposite this book case is my kitchen table, where I like to sit with my computer, cookbooks, chat on the phone and go through my recipes.  The table is usually stacked with books to!  This is an older photo, see the snow out the window!  LOL!!!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my kitchen, next time I'll put the kettle down, we'll sit at the table and have some tea, if you stop by later, I'll crack open the wine!  

Please visit Dom @ Belleau Kitchen after you leave a comment, you won't be disapointed! 

Thanks Dom!  This was fun!  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Down East & Buried Treasure

This past week my husband, Duke (our 8 year old puppy) and I spent 5 days in Down East Maine!  This was our first trip Down East, and it was heaven on earth!  Down East is an old sailing term, it means sailing downwind, to the east.

We were lucky enough to be invited to spend Friday through Tuesday at our friends camp on Donnell Pond in Franklin, Maine.  The camp was built by her dad over 50 years ago.  They've made "upgrades" over the years such as indoor plumbing & electricity!  More recently they have added new siding and a stunning green metal roof!

The camp & boat house

The Great Room
The interior of the camp remains much the same as it did when her dad and mom built it back in the 50's!
This stove still works & makes great baked beans!

The camp is water front with 150 feet of shoreline.  The house sits up on a little hill overlooking the pond.  They have lovely dock and a 17 foot motor boat.  We also enjoyed a boat ride!

We also toured the area, by visiting Arcadia National Park, which is the first national park east of the Mississippi.  Words can't describe the beauty that we got to see in our short visit.  I can't wait to go back!

Looking out to Cadillac Mountain

Looking out towards Europe!

Buried Treasure - was found by Duke! He unearthed an old tennis ball along the shore that belong to our neighbor's late golden retriever!

I can't believe it's taken this New England girl so long to go Down East!  I'm looking forward to making it an annual trip!

I have many more photos to post that I'll save for another day!  I hope you enjoyed visiting Down East Maine!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lime Blueberry Jam

A short while ago I became a Follower of Bee Haven Acres, and Beverly, the Bee Haven Maven posted a recipe for Blueberry Lime Jam.  I was really intrigued by her recipe, and since I have an abundance of wild Maine blueberries in my freezer, which need to be used up before next years crop/stock comes in I thought I would give it a try!

I recently processed 6-eight ounce jars of Blueberry Lime Gold (my new name for this jam)!  This morning we "cracked" open our first jar to spread on our English muffins, and when I asked my husband if he liked it, his response was "oh yaaa" ~ so it's got the husbands seal of approval!  Honestly, it's home-made love in a jar!

I normally make Spiced Blueberry Jam which is amazing too, so I was thrilled when Beverly posted her recipe.  I hope you enjoy this delicious new jam recipe as much as we do!

Blueberry Lime Jam

5 cups of blueberries (crushed, I use wild Maine)
2 1/2 cups of sugar
juice of two limes
zest from one lime
1 pack of dry fruit pectin

Bring the above to a boil in a large kettle.
When you reach a rolling boil, allow to boil one more minute.
Skim foam from top of liquid.
Pour into jelly jars with 1/4 inch headspace.
Place and hand tighten lids.
Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

Beverly adds that this is one of their favorite jams and she adds a lot of lime to make it tart ~ because that's how they like it, she also said If you like a sweeter jam, you can add more sugar.  We thought it was perfect just the way it was! Why mess with perfection!

Please visit Bee Haven Acres after you leave a comment, you'll love Beverly's blog!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

World's Best Blueberry Muffin

In honor of National Blueberry Muffin Day, I thought I would re-share my all time favorite blueberry muffin recipe! I have been baking these muffins since I got married, and that's been 19 years! Wow, time flies! The recipe came from my Williams-Somoma Kitchen Library Muffins and Quick Breads cookbook. I think the book is now considered vintage! LOL!!!

These sweet, buttery muffins are delicately spiced, with a cake like texture. Fresh blueberries are best, but if you have only frozen berries, stir them into the batter without thawing, or their dark juice will turn the muffins purple.

I enjoy them with a dollop of blueberry jam or a pat of butter, however you "dress" them, I know you will not be disappointed!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup blueberries (I especially like wild Maine berries)

Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Butter 16 standard muffin cups.
In a bowl, stir and toss together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, butter and eggs until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Add the blueberries and stir just until evenly incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each one about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan. Makes about 16 standard muffins.

Bake & Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Serene Saturday ~ Cascade Falls & Lobstah

My husband and I love to explore Maine, and the other day we took a hike down into the woods to see this really lovely waterfall.  While the hike down was a little slippery at time, it was well worth it.  Next time I think I'll take a picnic lunch!  I hope you enjoy my photos!

It's nickname is the "Bridal Veil"

The sign at the top of the falls, and the top of the falls below.

A Woodpecker's work on a fallen tree!

We all needed a drink!

This is what we did when we got back, we steamed 10 lobsters in our pot on the grill, there were five of us for dinner!  The lobsters were sweet and tender!

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July & Cream of Peanut Soup

click on photo to enlarge!

The photo collage above is a sample of my flags of Maine photo collection. Snapping photos of the American flag has become a bit of a hobby of mine. I really think our flag is beautiful.

For those of you that don't know the history of the American flag, the stripes represent the original 13 colonies. Stars were added as states joined the Union. The location of each star also represents each state, an interesting fact that I learned a few years ago. The last star added was Hawaii in 1959!

The bottom middle photo is an original flag with 45 stars! Wouldn't I love to own that!

I thought it would be nice to add a classic American colonial recipe to celebrate Independence Day! What better way than Cream of Peanut Soup from the Kings Arms Tavern. If you've never been to Colonial Williamsburg it's a trip worth the experience. Jane Vobe opened the King’s Arms Tavern in 1772, and it became one of the town’s most genteel establishments. She once described it as a place “where the best people resorted.” Still true today! I also highly recommend making reservations.

Cream of Peanut Soup 

from Kings Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg

photo from Colonial Williamsburg


¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
8 cups Chicken Stock* (or low-salt canned chicken stock)
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 ¾ cups light cream or half-and-half
Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish


In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, three-five minutes.

Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer.

Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the sauce pan or pot.

Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil.

Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.


P.S.  Check out Bee Haven Acres for wonderful recipes and fantastic Give-Aways!  Good Luck!