Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Cranberry Pear Crisp

 
You can buy fresh pears at the store or poach them from your neighbor. Shhh!


Another yummy seasonal treat is anything with cranberries! If your only experience with cranberries is that gelatinous blob that you plop out of a can for Thanksgiving, let me expand your horizons.

Frozen, dried or fresh cranberries are a tart and tangy pop of flavor you can add to a lot of desserts. This is one of them.

Serves 9

Ingredients:

Topping -

1 cup oatmeal 
1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies (I used the store brand.)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of salt
1 stick butter

Filling -

2 lbs pears peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen or 1 cup dried) 
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest from half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

If you are baking immediately, preheat the oven to 350.

Mix together the fruit, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla. Separately mix together the cornstarch and sugar, then blend into the fruit mix. Spread out into greased 9" square baking dish. (If you double the recipe, as I often do, it fits in a 9.5x13.5" baking dish. This is an odd one it seems as I only have one baking dish this size. The rest are 9x13, which will also work.)

For the topping - mix together all the ingredients except the butter. (Most recipes tell you to cut up the butter and put it in the topping. I find it better to put the butter on the top in nice big pats, one per serving.)

Pour the topping out over the fruit and push to the edges. Cut a nice pat of butter and place on top of each serving. Bake for about 45 minutes. The fruit will be bubbling up. You can also cover and refrigerate until morning if you're serving this for breakfast and want to sleep in a bit. ;-)

Top with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Acadia National Park 100th Anniversary

Thunder Hole Acadia National Park
Thunder Hole Acadia National Park


2016 is the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park! Lots of events are planned for the park and surrounding towns. There will be a parade of windjammers in Somes Sound on August 2, 2016.

For more info on Acadia National Park:
Acadia National Park -hours, admission fees, camping reservations, etc
Acadia Centennial - events, park history, etc
Acadia Magic - park info, places to stay, restaurants, etc
Acadia National Park Community - conservation, history and cultural info

The Bumps Acadia National Park
The Bumps Acadia National Park
You know us, we travel in the off season! We usually hit the road the first week in November with our friends Karen and Dave from Timbercliffe Cottage. This year we went by ourselves as Dave was in for a 'tune-up' at the eye doctor's. (He's fine as can be now!) I've wanted to go back to Acadia for a few years now. I drove the eldest grandson, Kevin, to camp last summer in Northeast Harbor but it was a quick drop off and run, no time to really see anything. So, yes, you CAN drive there and back in one day, but you have to leave early enough to enjoy the park before heading home. We've had guests stay for sunset on Cadillac Mountain and then arrive back at the inn around midnight.

Of course, continuing my photo collection of lighthouses, we had to go to Bass Harbor while we were there. It was a stormy day at high tide and I'm a bit of a self-preservationist, so I did not climb out on the wave-swept rocks to get the 'perfect' photo.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light


We hope you get to come to Maine for Acadia's Centennial in 2016. Bookend your trip to Bar Harbor with a stay here at White Cedar Inn. We have books and maps so you can plan out your trek before you hit the park.

Here are some pix from our trip to whet your appetite:

The 'bar out to the Bar Islands
Out of the clouds, Cadillac Mountain



Cadillac Mountain
In the clouds, Cadillac Mountain
The crashing surf off Bass Harbor Light
Be sure to check the tide charts so you can walk across the bar to another bit of Acadia National Park - Bar Island. Short, one mile hike to the top of the island affords views of Bar Harbor.


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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Freakin' Good Blueberry Thing

That's what a guest called this blueberry bread pudding. And doesn't that sound more interesting than 'Blueberry Bread Pudding'? I think it does. We've made this once; the same guest has already requested it for next Sparkle weekend. So, along with the Egg Nog French Toast, this Freaking Good Blueberry Thing will be on the menu the first weekend in December. In case you want to be here, too.

Serves 15, 16 in a pinch, 12 if you want to give really big servings

Ingredients:

6 large croissants (or 12 'deli' size)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 8oz packages of cream cheese (not whipped)
4 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups milk


Butter a large baking dish (9x13). Tear the croissants into small pieces and cover the bottom of the baking pan. Use all 6 croissants. Spread blueberries over the croissants. Mix the cream cheese, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk. The cream cheese will be chunky, that's ok.

Pour the mixture over the croissants. The cream cheese will settle to the bottom of the mixing bowl so make sure you spread it out in the baking dish. (Ask me how I know this...) Let the liquid absorb into the croissants for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while waiting. (You can also let this set up overnight, covered in the fridge.)

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until edges are nicely browned. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 10 minutes. You want to be sure the egg mixture is cooked.

Remove from oven and let stand until slightly cooled. Serve warm with powdered sugar.

Can also be made in separate ramekins. Halve the cooking time and adjust the amount of ingredients based on the number of servings you're making.

(Sorry, no photo this time...it was all gone after breakfast!)

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

Monday, November 09, 2015

Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach

Morse Mountain Seawall Beach Phippsburg, Maine
Morse Mountain - Seawall Beach Phippsburg, Maine
 The objective of this hike was the view above. Similar to our hike through the Cutler Reserve, we knew we were getting close when we could hear the pounding surf and the trees were thinning out. Unlike the cliffs of Cutler, there was a nice sandy slope to the beach here.
Sprague River marshland
Sprague River marshland in the fog
 Along the way, on both sides of the mountain, we passed through tidal marsh lands. My guess is these are prime water birding spots although we didn't see anything except woodpeckers on the trail today.

Morse Mountain Seawall River hike
Bridge over the tidal river


Rock on the trail.
Morse Mountain trail
Morse Mountain trail

The trail is somewhat 'paved' with macadam almost, but not quite, covering small outcroppings of granite. In some places the tar is completely disintegrated and nature is taking over again. From the parking lot you'll traverse: macadam, gravel, sand and combinations of all three. Everyone we saw had good sneaks or hiking boots, this isn't a flip flop walk. Even though I only took pix on the relatively flat sections, the trail does climb to 180' in a short time. (Anyone who generally climbs in the Rockies can fall over laughing right about now, but this is a big hill here.) Then, just when you think you're headed downhill for keeps, you're going back uphill again.

Haunted tree
Looks like it was hit by lightening a long time ago.


Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Ahhhhhh! The beach! Nothing but sand and ocean as far as the eye could see. Low tide so we could walk quite a long way before reaching the rivers on either side.

Happy camper!

Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine

How to get there from White Cedar Inn:

Turn right on Rt 1 in front of the house and head toward Bath. Turn off Rt 1 at Rt 209. Take Rt 209 to Rt 216 (Rt 216 goes straight, Rt 209 turns left). On Rt 216 when you see the 'No Parking' signs you're getting close. Turn left on Morse Mountain Rd, go to the parking lot. There is a fee in the summer, the rest of the time it's the honor system to pay to enter. If the parking lot is full you'll have to go to Popham Beach instead.

As this is a conservation area there are no facilities and certain items are not allowed on the beach (loud music, pets, kites, umbrellas, etc). Everything you carry in you must carry out with you when you leave.

From the parking lot it is 2 miles to the beach. Again, uphill both ways.

FMI on the conservation land check the Morse Mountain - Bates College website. 

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

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Hedgehog Mountain

Mt Washington from top of Hedgehog Mountain
Mt Washington from the top of Hedgehog Mountain

Another of the excellent, and mostly unknown, trails in the Freeport Conservation Trail System. This little gem, with over five miles of trails, extends the length of Main Street from Exit 20 to Exit 22, totally in the woods. You can hear the 'far off' (less than 1 mile away) interstate as a low hum in the background. However, once you start marveling at the canopy of trees, the vista from the top of the mountain and the stone walls that seem to appear from nowhere, you can pretty much forget the hum in the distance and focus on the hum of nature instead.

I took this hike last week with a group of women I don't know. We came together at the invitation of Katrina, the director of the Freeport Conservation Trust. You can sign up to receive their emails and get a head's up on when the next guided hike is. (Another hike I've gone on with the group was to Florida Lake.)

Canopy of autumn colors

Crossing the stream

Autumn view from top of Hedgehog Mountain
Autumn view from top of Hedgehog Mountain
From the top of the mountain you can see all the way to New Hampshire and the Presidential Range (dark blue 'hills' in the background). Also visible, to the right of the huge (and it IS huge) pine tree you can see Bradbury Mountain, another excellent hiking trail in the Maine State Park system.

Thru the woods at Hedgehog Mountai
Thru the woods at Hedgehog Mountain
How to get there: from White Cedar Inn turn right onto Rt 136/Mallett Dr (at the traffic light). Cross over I-295 and bear left onto Pownal Rd. In approximately one mile you'll see the sign for the transfer station on the left. This is the Landfill Rd/Hedgehog Mountain Rd. Parking is on the left just before the gate for the 'dump'. It's best to print a trail map before heading out. Trees along the way are blazed in different colors for different hikes. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top. There are a couple of benches and a huge expanse of granite rock to sit on. This would be an excellent spot to watch migrating raptors in April and May.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lighthouse Cruise on the Kennebec River

 
Kennebec River
Kennebec River

There's nothing like a day playing hooky on the river! I grabbed the camera and headed for the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath for a lighthouse cruise down the Kennebec. These cruises run through the summer into fall. They're a great opportunity to get out on the water for 2 - 6 hours and see the Kennebec lights, the Sasanoa River and wildlife along the way.

Here are some shots from my 2 hour cruise on the river:

Bath Iron Works - Zumwalt Class Destroyer
Bath Iron Works - Zumwalt Class Destroyer

Doubling Point Light
Doubling Point Light

Kennebec Light
Kennebec Light

Harbor seal Kennebec River
Harbor seal Kennebec River

Osprey nest on channel marker
Osprey nest on channel marker

Maine Maritime Museum lighthouse cruise boat
Maine Maritime Museum lighthouse cruise boat

Kennebec River Range Lights
Kennebec River Range Lights

Ah Summer!

Just hanging around

Selfie stick

Squirrel Point
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Maine Guide to Lighthouses and Harbors (usually in the living room on the side table). After the cruise down the river you can drive to see the lighthouses from land as well. Here are some of the daytrips I took to see them: Doubling Point and Squirrel Point.

Also visible on this river cruise is Fort Popham, Pond Island Light and, off in the distance, Seguin Island Light. There are different trips out to Pond Island and Seguin that allow you to get off the boat and wander around. Seguin is 3 miles off the coast of Popham Beach.

How to get there: From White Cedar Inn take Rt 1 north to Bath. Follow signs to Maine Maritime Museum to go on the cruise and wander around the museum for an in depth look at maritime traditions in Maine. For Popham Beach, Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin continue on Rt 209 from Bath to Phippsburg. You can take a couple of side roads (Parker Head Rd) for a more scenic, slower-paced route. 

One hike we haven't done yet is Morse Mountain overlooking the Morse River just off Popham Beach. Instead of turning to follow Rt 209 to the beach, you stay straight on Rt 216. More info when we go there!

Pick up a packed lunch for a day exploring!

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

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

 
sweet potato bread pudding
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding


Nothing says 'Fall' like the color orange! Leaves, pumpkins, Halloween costumes, sweet potatoes. And nothing says sweet New England comfort food like bread pudding. Without further ado, here's your new Sunday brunch or Thanksgiving go to sweet.

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
(serves 8 - 10)

1 loaf Italian bread ripped into large chunks
2 -3 medium sweet potatoes, baked
1/2 c pecans
4 c milk
4 eggs
1 c brown sugar, loose, not packed
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

butter

Bake sweet potatoes in 400 degree oven for about 1 hour. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime: butter a 9x12" baking dish and shred enough Italian bread to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside to dry out. 

When sweet potatoes are ready, scoop out of skins, and place on top of bread, spreading out to cover surface and pushing down to fill in spaces. Sprinkle pecans on top, pressing into sweet potato.

Beat eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in large bowl. Pour over bread and sweet potatoes. Set aside in fridge until liquid is absorbed (about 3 hours). You may need to push the bread back down if it starts to float around. Cut pats of butter and place on top of soaked bread, one pat per serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread pudding for 45 - 50 minutes until pudding is set. Let cool slightly. Scoop onto plates. Top with ice cream, whipped cream or maple syrup.We drizzled maple syrup on the plate, then topped with homemade whipped cream.


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