On Breathing and Eating: Our Time in Maine and a List of Meals

WARNING: PICTURES GALORE

My husband, dog and I were in Maine for a whole week, and though time moved slowly, steadily, and beautifully while we were there, the moment we were back in Brooklyn, it felt like it all passed in the blink of an eye. Sigh.

Our vacation camp in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve

Our vacation camp in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve

We stayed at an amazing solar-powered camp located in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve, 15 minutes from Belfast, the cutest town of all time. The view was nothing short of breathtaking (literally), the silence was ever-present (the kind that rings in your ears from shock), and, importantly, the kitchens were incredible. Yes, plural. The cabin had an indoor and outdoor kitchen. WHAT.

A wonderful kitchen in the cabin

A wonderful kitchen in the cabin

The outdoor kitchen had a commercial range, wood fired pizza oven, and a manual wood fire ‘grill’, and the cabin was equipped with three differently sized and shaped cast iron pans, seasoned to perfection, and three dutch ovens. Oh, and there was a delectable herb garden, with basil you could smell from inside the camp.

In the outdoor kitchen

In the outdoor kitchen

For the first time in a long while, I didn’t schedule our meals in advance of the trip. I approached this vacation as a sort of experiment, to see whether I could even stand the idea of not planning every element of the vacation. I did it! Sort of. Because we were close to a wonderful food co-op (apparently the oldest one in Maine) and had access to delicious and local meat, dairy, produce, and seafood, it was easy/easier to play it by ear. And by ‘play it by ear,’ of course I mean that I scheduled our menu in two day increments. Baby steps, people. Baby steps. Here’s what we ended up cooking and/or eating*:

*If you want a recipe for any of the dishes below, let me know in a comment.

SATURDAY, 6/20
Dinner: Marinated and grilled flank steak, sticky purple rice, and a salad (red leaf lettuce, carrots, radicchio, fennel, cocktail tomatoes, and radishes)


SUNDAY, 6/21

Breakfast: Fried eggs, apple smoked bacon, and toast (all local)

Lunch: Salad with sliced flank steak (all local)

Dinner: Boiled lobster, twice baked potatoes stuffed with yogurt, herbs, and cheese, and clarified butter with garlic and herbs (all local)


MONDAY, 6/22

Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Lunch: Tarragon lobster rolls on butter-toasted rolls (all local)

Dinner: Wood fired pizzas (all local)

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TUESDAY, 6/21
Brunch: Lemon yogurt pancakes, scrambled eggs, and apple smoked bacon (all local)

Dinner: Pappardelle with a tomato cream sauce (cocktail tomatoes were roasted and then stewed with caramelized shallots, garlic, goats milk, basil, and parsley) and a salad (all local, except for pasta)


WEDNESDAY, 6/22
Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Snack: Boiled lobster

Dinner: Bruschetta (w/ grilled bread, fire roasted cocktail tomatoes, and basil), salad, and lobster & pea risotto (made with roasted vegetable, chicken, and lobster carcass stock) (all local)

Dessert: Maple walnut oatmeal chocolate chip cookies


THURSDAY, 6/23
Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Lunch: Fried clams and haddock (our first purchased meal)
Dinner: Tagliolini w/ sweet peas, shallots, lemon, butter, mint, parsley, basil, and cheese, and a salad


Friday, 6/24
Breakfast: Maple almond scones

Lunch: Boiled lobster and steamers (second purchased meal) at Young’s Lobster Pound (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Dinner, the last hurrah: Wood fire grilled rib eye steak; pan seared hake with lemon, butter, and herb sauce; scalloped potatoes with caramelized onions, cheese, chicken bone broth, and parsley; wood fire grilled eggplant and zucchini; and a salad (all local)


I’ve never really given much thought to cooking and eating local, but it was a particularly easy endeavor in Belfast. And, I have to say, I’m hooked. To be frank, however, I was less cognizant of my spending on groceries because we were on vacation – I’m not sure we can eat with the same kind of accidental commitment to local eating here in Brooklyn.

We didn’t spend ALL of our time cooking and eating. Just most of our time. Usually, we justify the mass amounts of food consumed by hiking and swimming. We did go on some beautiful walks and hikes, but definitely not enough to adequately combat the mild and happy plumpness that overtook my body.

Hiking with Mandu is one of the best things ever

Hiking with Mandu is one of the best things ever


My boys

Finally, I want to mention how excited I am about the week we’ve had with SCOTUS. Obviously, as a married person, I believe there is something wonderful about marriage, my marriage, and I’m pleased that this country has finally made a commitment to some form of equity. However, I will not yet say that I am proud to be an American. Until anti-LGBTQ violence, murderous transphobia, homelessness, deportation, state-sanctioned anti-POC violence, and the invisibility of POC women are also on the forefront of our national consciousness, enough to change institutions and culture, I won’t say that I am proud to be an American. We have work to do. I will say that I take great pride and joy in knowing and loving people and organizations committed to the transformation of this country. And I will say that to fight against the systemic cruelty and oppression practiced by this nation is to believe in it, and to love it.

Maine, thank you for bringing me some peace, sanity, and deliciousness.

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On Maine, Mom, and a (Working) Menu for Vacation

In a ten days, my partner in crime and grime, our shiba, and I will be en route to a week-long and breathtaking getaway in Maine. With incredible views of the rolling hills, green trees, and fluffy clouds, we’ll spend our days hiking, swimming, reading, napping, and exploring Belfast. Oh, and we’ll be eating a lot. Like, an insane amount of food. And what, pray tell, will we be eating with incredible gluttony and satisfaction?

LOBSTER.

Oh. My. God.

LOBSTER.

But this trip isn’t just about the lobster. I mean, a lot of it is. But Maine holds a very special and overwhelming place in my heart. In my younger days, my family would spend a week or two together in the Pine Tree State. It was the only time I didn’t obsessively focus on practicing an instrument, the only time I didn’t think about school, or my academic deficiencies (fuck you, math and science!). I was granted reprieve from intensive camps (e.g. 6 week sleepaway piano camp, vocal pre-college program).

Instead, I breathed. I shared comfortable and comforting silences with my mother. I hiked with my brother and found myself inspired and moved by his quiet yet powerful leadership. I humored my mom and let her take hundreds of mediocre photos of my mediocre face, but pretended (or allowed myself) to feel beautiful. Though I’m not sure that my mother knew it, I spend a great deal of my time watching her interact with the natural world. She touched remarkably ordinary leaves, sticks, and rocks with an impossible tenderness, warmth, and appreciation. She would pick up some weirdly shaped pebble and exclaimed that she found inspiration for a new pot (she was a potter in the final years of her life).

One of mom's pieces

One of mom’s pieces

I called these

I called these “The Dr. Seuss Series”

At the time, I had high standards for beauty. Things had to be the most unique and aesthetically pleasing in order for my heart to flutter. So, like a typical tween/teenage daughter, I’d roll my eyes (with fondness) at my mother’s ridiculous propensity for finding beauty in random and regular shit.This isn’t to say that Maine is random and regular. It’s stunning. 

And then she died. We never went back, and it’s now been nearly ten years since I last visited. We followed that typical familial trajectory, where my brother and I grew up and we stopped vacationing together as a family. Though I had opportunities to travel to Maine during my college years, and the time that followed, there was something delicately haunting and mystical about the state– a hopeful and subtle promise that my mother would somehow, in some way, be a part of the experience. I hadn’t been ready.

My last trip to Maine

Mom and me, last trip to Maine

But I am, now. I’m filled with a desire to be genuinely compassionate, to myself, to others, to the natural world. And I’m looking forward to assessing those ordinary leaves, sticks, and rocks, to finding pieces of my mother in the earth, the ponds, in my reflection.

And, to bring it back to the main subject at hand, I’m looking forward to lobster. I conflate my (strangely expansive) memories of Maine with those of eating so much damn lobster that we had to be “creative” about what to do with leftovers. Drench it in BBQ sauce. Mix it with rice, vegetables, kimchi, and Kraft American Singles. Eat it for breakfast and for dessert. Put it on a pie. It was fun, but definitely not always delicious.

Now that I’m a grown ass person, I can actually prepare and cook the lobster, myself! How exciting is that?

Though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t make a fully blown for the trip, I just can’t help it. This cabin has a full outdoor kitchen (commercial range, pizza oven, professional grill), so…obviously I need a menu. I don’t think Nico minds my compulsive need to plan our meals, not when it comes to lobster.

Here’s a working list of proposed meals, to soon be assessed and voted on by me and the husband dude. Yea, there’s a voting system. Feel free to pick your favorites in a comment!

Note: I usually create and finalize these menus many months in advance, so this is me being way chiller than ever before. Thank you, therapy!

Breakfast (pick four)

  • Lemon ricotta pancakes
    Breakfast pizza w/ herbs, spinach, and eggs
  • Breakfast quesadillas w/ broccoli, cheddar, and eggs
  • Sour cream coffee cake with orange and chocolate

Lunch (pick four)

  • Tarragon lobster rolls
  • Lobster, kimchi, and egg fried rice
    Lobster corn chowder
  • Lobster grilled cheese sandwich w/ watercress
  • Grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers) on a toasted baguette w/ brie

Dinner (pick six)

  • Pizza (margherita, four cheese, speck + onion)
  • Marinated skirt steak, grilled vegetables, and rice
  • Steamed lobster w/ grilled asparagus and baked stuffed potatoes
  • Lobster and pea risotto, and a salad
  • Grilled lobster w/ garlic/parsley butter, toasted baguette, and browned baby zucchini w/ mint, basil, and pine nuts
  • Grilled lobster with miso butter, jasmine rice, and grilled zucchini
  • Cantonese-style ginger and scallion lobster, jasmine rice, and sautéed bok coy
  • Lobster mac n cheese and salad
  • Lobster, seafood, and pea risotto and a salad
  • Lobster, clam, and kimchi stew, jasmine rice, and garlic sautéed spinach
  • Zuni Café inspired roasted chicken, grilled bread salad, and tomato + cucumber + olive + feta salad
  • Pappardelle w/ roasted cherry tomato cream sauce, and a salad

Dessert (pick 2)

  • Peach and blueberry cake
  • Strawberry mascarpone tart
  • Orange, grapefruit, and green grape compote