Monday, March 12, 2012

Notes From A Maine Kitchen

Kathy Gunst, author of Notes From A Maine Kitchen: Seasonably
Inspired Recipes, is, like me, a transplant from away. [Translation
for non
mainers: someone who was not born in this lovely state.] She first
gained an affinity for Maine as a child during summers spent with
grandparents and at sleep away camp.
As an adult, Gunst and her husband decided to spend a year in
Maine. At times they wondered what they were doing. They must have
found the answer. Nearly thirty years and two daughters later they're
still here which is a darn good thing.
An award-winning cookbook author, Gunst is impressed with how
Maine cuisine has evolved in her decades here. She arrived in a time
of clam bakes and church suppers. Now we have the push for local
foods and sustainable agriculture. Lobsters and chowder are sharing
culinary attention with cheeses, breads, greens, and local treats such
as fiddleheads (ferns). A blog evolved into the book. "I was
interested in exploring the food world in Maine throughout the
seasons, from my kitchen and garden and its surroundings. It's been
several years of discovering great food, meeting inspiring chefs,
gardeners, farmers, and people passionate about making Maine food
something worth talking about."
Notes From A Maine Kitchen is organized by calendar with a
chapter for each month. Two strands are woven together in each
chapter. One is a narrative strand of people, places, and
activities. The other is the wonderful recipes.
In January Gunst heads out resolutely for her first time ice
fishing. We're with her as she travels to the ice shack, baits hooks
and tends lines, and helps cook the results of her labor. The recipe
follows along with one for tartar sauce. She speaks of the pleasures
of a warm, slow cooked stew on a frigid day. Then there are recipes
for winter comfort foods--
parsleyed potatoes, chicken stew, and chowder.
All is not perfect even in Vacationland. In an essay on the
wonders of farmers' markets, Gunst criticizes stores that import
strawberries from California when fresh local berries are in season.
She believes that we must speak up on behalf of local farmers whose
foods we want to purchase. In the November chapter she speaks
eloquently of her discovery of hunger in Maine when she volunteered in
her daughter's first grade classroom.
If you enjoy cooking rich, nourishing food, if you enjoy a good
narrative, if you want to learn more about the fascinating state of'll find Notes From A Maine Kitchen a must read. My only
frustration when I read it was the lack of snow outside to scoop up
and pour maple syrup on.
On a personal note I'm so excited about the warmer temps and longer
days. I've started spring cleaning :P and look forward to getting
productively dirty in the Orono Community Garden :-).
A great big shout out goes out to the memory of Mimi Perry,
quintessential Mainer, who welcomed me into her state and heart. When
I was at the University, hundreds of miles away from my family cat
sitting, she'd bring me Thanksgiving dinners from her own kitchen. As
the children arrived she was always ready with advice and
encouragement. Boy, do I miss her! But we never completely lose
those we love when we carry their memory in our hearts.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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