Food, Recipes

Buttermilk + Oysters

IMG_6831Before we were frozen out of Maine a few days ago, we had dinner at one of our favorite Rockport restaurants, Nina June, in the heart of the village.

IMG_6833It is the brainchild of Sara Jenkins who combines her love of Mediterranean food with her Maine roots.  She is also a cookbook author, the most recent one written with her mother Nancy Harmon Jenkins, a food guru in her own right.

On a cold night, we started with soup that combined leeks, potatoes, oysters and buttermilk in a creamy base.  It was so good that I had to see if I could recreate it for dinner on a chilly Houston night.  

IMG_0114I started with the known ingredients and added chicken broth and half and half.  I can’t promise that it was as good as Sara’s, but it wasn’t bad.  Here’s how it went together.

Buttermilk Oyster Soup

1 pint oysters, cut in half if they are large

l leek, finely chopped

3 red potatoes, finely chopped

1 c. chickens broth

1 qt. half and half

1/2-1 c. buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Saute oysters in about 1/4 c. of their liquid for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook leeks and potatoes in chicken broth until potatoes have softened.  Add half and half and heat through.  Add buttermilk and oysters with salt and pepper to taste and heat until all ingredients are blended.

IMG_0117Simple enough, the soup was very tasty and a perfect meal with a green salad and  cornbread muffin.    Next time I make it I might add a few drops of Tabasco and I can also imagine it with spinach or kale as an ingredient.  Hmmm, what started at Nina June may take on a life of its own.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Houston, musings

Reentry

I am very lucky to live in two places: Houston, Texas and Rockport, Maine.  We have just returned to Houston and, oh, what a difference.  Many of those differences make reentry something of a challenge.

Office View HoustonHouston is big and with that comes lots of traffic.  

HoustonRight now I drive the freeways with my heart in my mouth, fearful of changing lanes and intimidated by 18 wheelers closing in urging me to speed up or waiting to pass me by.  

img_7502That is quite a contrast to Maine where most of the roads are two lanes with 50 MPH speed limit which makes driving a bit more leisurely to say nothing of being more scenic.

img_8259As different as it is, there are things I like about being in Houston.  High on the list is Costco where I always come out with much more than  I meant to purchase.  That was especially true on this first visit when having access to so much was overwhelming!

img_8314I like that Houston winter is green with lots of blooming things, the way Maine is in summer.  By the time we leave Maine, most of the color is gone and the landscape takes a break until spring when it reawakens.

img_8332Returning to Houston means going to St. Paul’s UMC, a church I’ve loved for many years.  I appreciate its timeless Gothic architecture, the peacefulness I feel there, the way it provides opportunity for discovering your own faith walk and that it is open to all people.

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The best part of reentry is returning to my house in the area that has been home to the hubby and me since we’ve been married.  (One of these days I will have to tell you the story of how this house got me elected to office or at least how I think it helped.)

Rockport Pano 6X18

As different as it is, I enjoy the time we spend in Houston, but I must confess that I do miss waking up in the morning, turning my head and looking out on Rockport Harbor.

Rockport Harbor

No matter the season, no matter whether it’s sunny or foggy, I love the view, the activity 

winter/lobster boatsand the sight and sound of lobster boats going out for the day’s work.  The most I see upon waking in Houston is the fence that separates our and the neighbor’s property.

Despite their differences, I am lucky to live in Houston and Rockport, and each helps me appreciate the other a little more.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Maine, Seasons

A Winter Fix

Rockport Harbor/winterFor most of the 14 years we’ve had our house in Maine, I’ve come up for a few days by myself in winter.    A few days are enough as it is cold and night comes early.

dirt road winterI love when it snows turning Rockport into a charming winter wonderland.

IMG_5894This year, thanks to warmer temperatures, snow isn’t lasting long.  It melts or is washed away by rain.  What is revealed are the browns of grass and leafless shrubs that wait patiently for spring.

Maine houseNo matter the weather, what I like about being here alone is the uninterrupted time spent thinking my own thoughts, reading in a favorite chair or binging on Netflix.  There  may even be a day or two when I don’t bother to get out of my pajamas!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is a time to enjoy a girls’ night filled with giggles and stories that make us feel like teenagers.  And, yes, sometimes we really do gather in our PJs.

winterMaine is my place to be still, to breathe deeply and laugh a lot. My hope is for all of us to have that kind of special place no matter where or what the season.

i so appreciate your visit and especially the comments you leave behind 

Maine, Random

Vegas Comes to Rockport

Pop the Cork 2013When you see the big tents going up in Rockport, you know that Pop the Cork is just around the corner.  Sponsored by Cellar Door Winery, it’s a happening that attracts 1,000 party goers from all over and leaves people talking for days.

Pop the Cork 2013The 2013 theme: Las Vegas with lots

Pop the Cork 2013of glitz,

Pop the Corkgambling

Pop the Cork 2013and glamor.  Well, for one of us it was wishful thinking!

Pop the Cork 2013From start to finish, the evening is alive with totally Vegas style entertainment.

Pop the Cork 2013The crowd rocks to the sounds of an Elvis impersonator, Thelma Houston and American Idol sensation Alice Tan Ridley.

Pop the Cork 2013An audience is awed by the Golden Dragon Acrobats who had us gasping over their contortions, strength and synchronization.

Pop the Cork 2013All of this is a build up to the featured attraction of the night, Foreigner.  I have to confess  that until hearing a familiar song or two I wasn’t sure who they were, but then I’ve never been very good at remembering the names of musical groups.

Pop the Cork 2013Once the band gets going, the crowd is totally into it, singing along, dancing, waving their hands.  Nobody stays sitting!

Pop the Cork 2013At the end of the evening, there are lots of tired feet, but no one leaves thinking they didn’t have a most wonderful time and without looking forward to next year.  One thing’s for sure, you have to get your tickets early because they sell out in a hurry.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Maine, Random

Here’s the Story

In the three years I have been writing about Maine, many of you have asked how we got from Texas to Maine.  Well, here’s the story and it’s my own fairy tale.

P. C. Lewis PhotoBefore we  married, the hubby captained a yawl that raced the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit.  Following a race that ended in Bermuda,  a fella  asked the hubby if he would sail his boat to Castine, Maine.  There was time until the next race, so that opportunity offered a new adventure.

foggy dayOff the coast of Maine came up one of those thick as pea soup fogs which forced an unexpected time out in Rockland, a couple of hours down the coast from Castine.  When the fog lifted and it became one of those glorious Maine days, the journey was completed and the hubby was blown away by the beauty of the Maine coast which he talked about for years.

Now, fast forward to a year when the hubby agreed to take a whole week off from work and our daughters decided to give up a summer of softball tournaments.  I decided it was a good time to surprise the family with a vacation in Maine.  Great idea, but the only places I had heard of were Kennebunkport, Boothbay Harbor and Bar Harbor.  In none of those places could I find a house to rent at the late date I began my search.

Then, out of the blue I got a phone call from a lady who heard I was looking and had a place in Camden, totally unknown to me.  She described it as a condo which was a real turnoff as I envisioned it as a Houston type high rise, and I had in mind a cozy cabin.  “Well,” she said, “it’s better than what you have now!”  Right, so I took it.

camdenThus begins the first of our 22 years visiting Maine, and I am forever grateful for that phone call as it led us to a place  with which we immediately fell in love.  As we drove that first time into Camden, we let out a collective WOW! as it looked like a scene from a photo book of beautiful places.

Camden HarborOur hearts began to beat a little faster when we turned onto Bayview Street and glimpsed the beauty of Camden Harbor backed by the Camden Hills.

Camden condoAnd the condo wasn’t a high rise after all.  It was part of a charming group of dwellings right on the harbor.  For the next 10 years we rented in that same location, and each year Maine became more a part of our heart.

Somewhere along the line we, or maybe I, dreamed of living in Maine, and I entertained the fantasy by looking at houses.  The hubby had no interest in one of the beautiful old homes that he felt would require continual maintenance, but that was about all that was available.  Then, one day as we biked the dirt road, we saw a house being built on Rockport Harbor.  It was in a beautiful location and best of all from his point of view, it had a dock.  He commented, knowing it was not a likely possibility, that if I ever found a place like that we might consider a second home.

StoneledgeThree years later, we heard the house was being sold.  We flew up, took a look and a few hours later the place was ours.  You can’t begin to imagine what a departure this purchase was for us because  for all the years of our marriage we had been so sane, making decisions that made sense.  This one made none, but after spending time here, each year adding another week or two so that now we are half time, it makes perfect sense.  I am grateful every day that we stepped outside our box and began an adventure that has brought such joy, not only to us but to family and friends.  So far, it’s been a real happily ever after tale.

That’s my story.  What is yours?

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Transitions

Lucky girl that I am, half of my year is spent in Houston and half in Rockport, Maine.  As you might guess, the two environments are very different.  Houston is a big city with lots of people and traffic, terrific restaurants, great shopping, professional sports and incredible visual and performing arts.

data=Ay5GWBeob_WIPLDYoIWcfVXxvZu9XwJ55OX7Ag,MJiqbusxCsk-l8k8NiMvxCrlr8_46OdWNEM65sV71RnQxjgDkTFDNjYje7dIj7eMR8tXQhmuZHfxVnt_W4scPQmJT4oDInc1slugVLjDKacSXzIGFalYeq7fUUoVyEQCTivs2JajjbRILnVUWFGZGcpOdmZIDzbIsoSJEjfaIQ9KycdVuJMBYxoOSdQRockport, on the other hand, is a small village on Maine’s midcoast with some 3300 residents.  Its history dates back to 1769 when it was first settled and in 1791 it was incorporated as Camden.  In 1891, there was a split because of a dispute over building a new bridge over the harbor and Rockport, so named because of its rocky terrain, became a separate town.

Rockport Harbor In 2008, Forbes put Rockport at the top of its list of America’s prettiest towns in no small part due to its beautiful harbor.

Andre/Rockport HarborFrom the 1970’s-1986, Rockport Harbor was home to Andre, a seal who provided much entertainment for onlookers and about whom books have been written and movies made.

belted galloways

Aldemere Farm, responsible for bringing the first Belted Galloway cattle into the U.S., is in Rockport.  From that original herd, many others have spawned and the oreo cows, as they are called, can now be found in many parts of the country.

CMCARockport is home to CMCA where I am privileged to run the gift shop and meet art interested visitors from all over the country.

Maine houseThe architecture is quite different from Houston where homes tend to be newer and built of brick or stucco.  Here, many date back to the 1800’s and are mostly shingled or clapboard Maine cottages.

Maine houseHere and there you are likely to see a church converted to an eye catching home.

There is really no comparison between Houston and Rockport.    Both are places I like to be, but I must confess that Rockport with its natural beauty and quieter lifestyle does more to make my heart sing.  I  have good friends here, but they do not replace the long term friends that are in Houston.  Spring and fall I have to transition from one place to another and that requires a certain kind of energy that is sometimes difficult to  call up.  I love life in both places, and there’s no question I appreciate each more because of the time I’m not there.  

Come along now and for the next few months join me for a taste of life in Maine.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Camden……#1

According to a survey of Down East readers, Camden is the prettiest village in Maine, and there aren’t many who would argue that.

Twenty years ago we drove into Camden for the first time,

and the minute we saw the white steeple standing above the trees we were in love.

Like most Maine villages, Camden’s “downtown” is a couple of blocks long on the main street.  Many of the lowrise buildings date back to the late 1800’s which gives the village a certain charm.

One of the many wonderful things about Camden is that while it is definitely a tourist destination, it has not given itself to shops filled with Maine paraphernalia.

JoEllen Designs

Rather the main area is comprised of tasteful shops like JoEllen Designs,

Sugar Spoon

and Sugar Spoon as well as a host of excellent restaurants.

If you want to stay around to explore all there is to see and do, there are a number of delightful bed and breakfasts.

The crown jewel of Camden is the beautiful harbor.  Whether you are looking out to the open water of Penobscot Bay

or toward Mount Battie, a great place to hike, the view is stunning.

Because of its amenities, Camden is a popular destination for large yachts or small cruise ships.

and it is home to Maine’s largest fleet of windjammers which are a great way to experience a week or a few hours exploring the coast.

Adding to Camden’s beauty are the homes, many more than 100 years old and possessing classic beauty.  

Whether they are situated high on a hill, along the waterfront or nestled in the trees, most have a lovely view.

As pretty as Camden is, Rockport with its beautiful harbor and charming homes gets my vote.  It is on the back road to Camden and is mostly residential so it doesn’t attract as many visitors.  Those who did manage to come through though did vote it as one of Maine’s 10 prettiest villages.  They weren’t wrong.  Rockport is my little piece of heaven.

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