Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day Trip - Bustins Island



Right off the coast of South Freeport lie several small, imaginatively named islands like Pound of Tea and Sow and Pigs. The largest inhabited island, Bustins, is completely seasonal. Residents and guests arrive during May and depart again in October. That's not to say the island isn't a happening place during those brief months! With its own Post Office (zip code 04013), store, library, community hall, golf course and sailing farmers market Bustins is a thriving summer community. (FMI and to find summer rentals or houses for sale, see the Bustins Island Community website.)

I hopped aboard the Lilly B, the island's ferry, with my friend Sue and we headed out to meet up with another friend for our weekly writing group. Always fun to combine work and pleasure!

The best time to head to the island is on the weekend when the Nature Center is open. As you can see in the map above, there is a road that goes around the island. It's an easy 2 miles walk along a dirt road. Stop along the way to take in the stunning views. It's best to bring along your own water bottles and snacks. Although this is not the wilderness, it's courteous to haul your trash away with you.

Enjoy the day in pictures...

Bustin's Island ferry Lilly B
Lilly B
Lilly B's Captain and Crew
Sailing class on the Harraseeket
Casco Castle on the Harraseeket River
Casco Castle
Bustin's Island cottages
Cottages along the west shore
Bustin's Island octagon house
Octagon House near dock

Bustins Island dock
Bustins Island dock
Bustins Island
Pumping water

Bustins Island
Red canoe

Bustins Island
Gardening with a sense of humor

Bustins Island
Relax, enjoy the view

Bustins Island
Maine scenery




Bustins Island
Lots of evidence the folks on Bustins are a relaxed crowd

Bustins Island
Love this use of old globes in a garden!

Bustins Island
Golf Course




Bustins Island
A perfect day
 The fee for the ferry is $24 round trip. (2014) Reservations are not required but you might want to check on weekends that there is room. Lilly B Ferry schedule. The ferry departs from the Town Dock in South Freeport, near the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster. Be prepared to tell everyone on the ferry who you are, they're a really friendly bunch!


White Cedar Inn bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Maine Solar System Model

"To infinity and beyond!" we exclaimed as we drove south on Rt 1 in Presque Isle. Winter is long up in Aroostook County so folks have time to come up with some interesting ideas. Vodka made from potatoes. The Phantom snowmobile. A scale model solar system.

The vodka we can find right here in Freeport at Cold River Distillery. The Phantom snowmobile is a great idea but it's not for me. But a scale model solar system? OK, I'll give it a try.

We decided not to stop at UMPI (University of Maine Presque Isle) to see the sun. Finding the Science Building would not be difficult but we still had a long drive ahead of us to get back to Freeport from Edmundston, NB. Then, oops, we drove right by Mercury, but quickly pulled in at the Budget Traveler Motor Inn to view Venus. (We found the distances on the website to be a little off, but most of the planets are easy to find anyway.)


Maine solar sytem model Venus
Venus

Next up was Earth - located at Percy's Auto Sales. Rock kept yelling out the car window at me to make sure I got the moon in the photos. Sorry, the moon is just too small and Rt 1 was just too busy for me to keep backing up to get the shot.


Maine solar system model Earth
Earth

You'll notice that all the planets are tilted properly as well as being sized appropriately in comparison with each other. The entire drive from UMPI to Houlton is 40 miles. It's fun to be on the lookout for the next planet and realize it's that GIANT ball at the side of the road!


Maine solar system model Jupiter
Jupiter

Driving along, this ditty popped into my head: Bend and stretch, reach for the stars. There goes Jupiter, there goes Mars. (OK, if you remember that, you are ancient like me! Romper Room. 50's TV show. They once called out my name for my birthday. I was in heaven. Thanks Mom.)

Along that line, we missed Mars. Drove right by it. We did, however, see the wind turbines at Mars Hill. Not quite the same thing but impressive nonetheless.


Maine solar system model Saturn
Saturn

Saturn was very nicely taken care of. Lovely garden, benches to sit on, gorgeous view all around. Again, getting the moon in the photo was out of the question. Every model has a place to pull off the road. Don't park in traffic.

Uranus was so sad I'm going to skip the photo. It's located outside the unused old town hall in Bridgewater. 

Next up, Neptune. Neptune was completely missing its sign. Still, it's hard to miss the planet by the side of the road.


Maine solar system model Neptune
Neptune

The final stop on our solar system trek was at the Houlton Information Center. (You need travel info about Aroostook County? These folks have it! They also have limited info for NB as well.)

Although certain people no longer recognize Pluto as a planet, the folks at the info center proudly display their model in the entryway. Go inside for a brochure that gives you mileage and signposts for where to find all the planets and the sun. It's a fun way to explore with your kids and some of the model locations are a great place for a picnic.


Maine solar system model Pluto
Pluto

Coming across the border from Canada, we asked the customs guy where to find the Four Corners Park in Madawaska, Maine. You can see it from the crossing, it's that close. If you do the Solar System Drive on a motorcycle, might as well keep going and stop at this park.


Four Corners Park Madawaska Maine


   And, of course, we stopped to take a picture of Rock in front of the place his family started out. If you've heard the story you know his family were Acadians who were pushed off their lands and forced to settle in New Brunswick or New Orleans. (That's what the colorful sign is about - the recognition of the Acadian families.)


   
White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich

Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich
Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich
We don't usually make breakfast that contains meat because so many of our guests are either vegetarians or don't eat pork products. We had a serendipitous day when there were no dietary restrictions so we threw everything together and made the Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich with Currant Jelly.

Ingredients:

Thin sliced ham (about 2 pieces per sandwich)
Thin sliced turkey (about 2 pieces per sandwich)
Thin sliced cheese, you want something with a kick that will melt nicely (2 pieces per sandwich)
Dijon mustard
Good toasting bread
2 large eggs per 2 sandwiches
Splash of heavy cream
Powdered sugar for garnish
Currant jelly (don't skip this, the jelly adds a nice tang)

Make the sandwiches:

Lay your bottom slice of bread on your clean work surface and spread on the mustard to taste. Add one slice of cheese, 2 slices of ham, 2 slices of turkey, another slice of cheese. Spread mustard on the top slice of bread and place that on top of your sandwich. Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.

Whisk your egg batter together.

Heat the griddle to about 325. Add butter to griddle. Dip just the top and bottom surface of the sandwiches in the egg batter, don't dredge! Place on hot griddle and cook until bread is browned on both sides and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes per side.

Cut, plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with currant jelly on the side. Would make interesting hors d'oeuvres as well. Cut off crusts after cooking, cut into 4 squares, skewer some dried cranberries on a toothpick and push thru layers.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Be Jammin'!

White Cedar Inn strawberry jam
Ripe strawberries fresh from the field
One truly wonderful sign of summer is fresh fruit! Everywhere you look you see juicy strawberries, sweet raspberries, and oh so tasty blueberries.

We can't always eat all of that bounty at once, try tho we might, so today we be jammin'. As in making jam. From scratch. Yup, me.

Not only making jam but picking the berries, too. Drove out to the farm in the morning and scored 13 lbs of berries in about 20 minutes with help from some kids who were having a lot of fun but who filled up their moms' baskets way too fast.

Before you even get the berries, tho, get your supplies in order! Jars (these are pint size), lids and rings, jar gripper, funnel, ladle, spoon, bowl, tongs, clean dish towel and your canning pot. You can reuse jars but make sure there are NO chips or cracks in them. Buy new lids and rings. The first time you try to pry one of these open you'll understand why.



Equipment

Next you're going to want some time. This is not something you squeeze in between soccer and band practice.

Ingredients:

2 quarts (8 cups) crushed strawberries (crush, then measure)
5-6 c sugar depending on how ripe the strawberries are. Back off on the sugar if the strawberries are really ripe.
You can add a tbsp of lemon juice to cut the sugar, if you want.

Do NOT double up the recipe. You'll come to grief.

Directions: You'll want to do this as soon as possible after picking. Local berries are built for taste, not longevity.

Prep the strawberries. Wash berries and take the tops off. Discard any beat up berries; you only want the best for your jam. (Eat the ugly ones.) Crush the berries with a potato masher. Repeat until you have 8 cups.



Start your water boiling in your water bath. You'll end up turning this off but it won't take that long to heat up later on when you need it right away. If you have a pot like the one I used, fill to the line closest to the top. The water has to cover the tops of the jars.

Set your berry pan on the stove and pour in the berries and the sugar.



 Turn the heat up to medium and start cooking! Within the first 10 minutes the mixture may boil over if the heat is too high. Once you've stirred it down a few times you can raise the heat to get a good rolling boil.



You will need to skim off the foam that forms. I'd use this on vanilla ice cream later on! The more foam you skim the fewer air bubbles you'll have in the finished product.

While this is cooking away (about 40 minutes) use the time to sterilize the jars, lids and funnel by putting them in the boiling water in your water bath. (Use the tongs!) Remove the jars and lids and place upright on a clean towel. DO NOT TOUCH THE INSIDES OF THE JARS OR LIDS. Keep those germs away!

First time you do this you will wonder how you know the strawberries have cooked enough. This is where old movies come in handy. Really old movies. Your boiling jam will start to sound like the noises from old swamp thing movies. Bloop, bloop, bloop. The next thing that happens is a bubble will burst and splatter jam all over the stove. You be jammin'! (OK, you want more scientific than old swamp thing movies? You can put a small plate in the freezer. When you think the jam is done, take the plate out. Pour a little jam on the plate. Turn the plate so the jam runs off. If it doesn't run, the jam is done. I like the bloop, bloop, bloop better, but that's me.)

Bubbles start to look like this right before it's ready to can.
Turn off heat, quickly skim the rest of the foam and get your funnel ready.

Using the jar gripper, move a hot jar close to the pan. (Remember: hot foods into hot jars.) Pop in the funnel and ladle in the jam until it is about 1/4" below the rim of the jar. Remove funnel and move to the next jar, working quickly. Your water bath should be boiling at this point.

When your jars are full (8 cups filled 4 pint jars), make sure the top edges of the jars are clean before you put the caps on (wipe with a damp paper towel if there are jammy bits)then screw on the rings (not tightly). Pick the jars up with the jar grippers and place in the basket in the water bath. (Alternate sides when putting the jars in. If you load up on one side, the whole thing tips into the water bath. No, I did not actually do that myself, but I came close!)


When all the jars are in the basket, lower gently into the bath, cover and boil for 15 minutes. With grippers, remove jars immediately and place on towel. Listen for popping noises. That's the sound of the vacuum forming and sealing the jars. You can tighten the rings after that happens. If you can push down on the lid and it flexes, you did not get a good seal. This jam cannot be stored for later use.


Cool and then label the jars and store in a cool location. They don't have to be refrigerated until opened.

Want to make more? The best book out there is the Ball Blue Book. Try to get the old one. The newer ones use 'products' instead of just fresh produce, spices and sugar.

(Do I have to say: Caution, contents are hot? I hope not. You're a smart cookie!)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Day Trip Cape Porpoise



Palace Diner Biddeford Maine
Palace Diner Biddeford (yes, they were inviting to the ladies!)

We started our day trip at the Palace Diner in Biddeford. Quite possibly the smallest diner we've ever been to! Their menu is not standard diner fare but diner fare with a twist. PBLT, anyone? That's a Pork Belly Lettuce and Tomato sandwich!

After the Palace we headed to Biddeford Pool to see if the snowy owl was still hanging around. It was a bit too windy and rainy to spend too much time there but we did see where the Audubon Trail parking is and it looks like an easy hike in better weather.

We took a lot of little side roads that I think would be hard to get around in the summer. But it would be a pretty fall drive!

After Biddeford Pool we headed to Fortunes Rocks Beach. Still windy and cold but we hopped out to take some photos.

Fortunes Rock Beach
Everyday in Maine in a day in Paradise
Brrr! It may be Paradise but it's dang cold!
Continuing our coasterly trek we next came to Goose Rocks Beach which was an interesting warren of small streets with No Parking signs everywhere. I guess you have to live there.

Back out to Rt 9 we drove south to Cape Porpoise. Just had to see a place with that name! 


Cape Porpoise Maine
Buoys on the wall at The Ramp
All the directions you need!

Goat Island Light


Safe harbor
Up next is the Kennebunks. Both my grandson and my daughter have since told me the best lobster roll ever is at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport on the bridge. Sounds like a challenge to me...

Getting ready to head home we stopped at the Kennebunk Beach. There were a few hardy souls out surfing and stand up paddle boarding. And, of course, the ubiquitous herring gull stopped right by the car waiting for us to throw some food out. Don't do that.

Going down...

Just feed me already!
Other places to go that we missed that day are Walker Point where the Bush compound is and walking around in Kennebunkport or antiquing in Arundel.


White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sleepless in Seattle


Magnolia

The end of the trip this year was Seattle. Spring was in bloom everywhere we went, such a change from here!

There is so much to see and do we barely scratched the surface. But, most important, was seeing my daughter and her family!


We had a great time visiting!

Some of the things we saw along the way...

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls
On a dampish day we headed over to the falls while the boys went to Boeing for the tour.

Another day we went to the locks to watch the ships go through. The birds are along the river.

Waiting for the water to rise


juvenile bald eagle
Juvenile bald eagle

Great Blue Heron nesting site along the locks
Great Blue Heron nesting site along the locks

Great Blue Heron on nest
Great Blue Heron on nest
Cheery blossoms


Of course we went to Pike Place Market to see the famous fish flinging guys!

Pike Place fish market


Space Needle
Another vacation comes to an end! Time to start planning for next year...

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032