Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Polenta Sticks

polenta sticks
Polenta Sticks
We had these great 'polenta sticks' at the Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro a couple of times. They come with the mussels, if you want to give them a try.

As we're always looking for new sides for egg dishes, these seemed a good option. Now, on to the hunt for a good recipe as we had absolutely no idea where to start!

There are hundreds of polenta recipes to try but we started with this one from Bon Appetit. We adjusted it, of course, based on what we like! And you can do the same...

One 9" square pan will make about 12-24, depending on how you cut them. The size above will yield 12. You can also use a loaf pan, which I think we'll try next time to get thicker slices.


1 1/2 c polenta (aka corn grits) We used Bob's Red Mill. (Reny's has a wicked good selection of Bob's!)
1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c whole milk (don't skimp on the fat)
1 c chicken stock (can use water)
1/2 c gouda cheese (we like the smoky kind)
1 1/2 c canola oil (for the frying part)


Lightly oil a 9" sq baking pan (or the loaf pan for thicker slices). Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Heat the milk and chicken stock on the stove, when the liquid comes to a boil gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture is very thick (like oatmeal or porridge), whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from heat, mix in cheese. Press into pan, chill.

Cut into strips or squares or triangles. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Work in batches to saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

We're thinking of either adding more cheese or cutting into smaller strips as the sticks started falling apart after one side was browned. Still yummy, but not exactly how we want to serve them to you!

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

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Scarborough Marsh Day Trip

Scarborough Marsh
Scarborough Marsh
On a slightly overcast day, that later turned to rain, we drove south to Scarborough Marsh. It's the largest salt marsh in the state of Maine, and we have a fair amount of soggy, boggy coastal marshes here! Over 3000 acres comprise the very important natural 'filter' that feeds numerous bird, fish and animal species. We stopped at the Audubon Center (closed in winter) and left the car there to walk the trail across the road. If you bring a canoe or kayak with you, this is an excellent spot to put in. There is a short ramp into the water at the edge of the parking lot. No kayak? You can rent one there! Not sure where to go? There are guided tours between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Mallards Scarborough Marsh
Mallards in flight
We startled this sord of mallards which took flight from the southern side of the marsh. There were another twenty or so in the flock that left as soon as we came in sight. Walking through the marsh is a bit soggy, but the trail is well managed with small 'bridges' throughout the lower lying paths.

As we came up on the road again we noticed a fair number of cars parked down Pine Point Rd at the utility substation. Espying a pedestrian bridge over the marsh, we walked toward the cars. Ah. Here was the Eastern Trail! This is the southern Maine section of the East Coast Greenway, a 3000 mile pedestrian/bike trail from Calais to Key West. There are 22 miles of off-road trail in southern Maine.

There are maps at the parking lot or you can print out your own using the link above. The section we walked is about 2 miles from Pine Point Rd to Black Point Rd and has wonderful views of the marsh. There are a couple of benches along the way and markers pointing out some of the wildlife you may see - Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis and harbor seals. (We saw the mallards and a merganser. I'll be back later in the season for the egrets. It was, after all, February!)

Eastern Trail thru Scarborough Marsh
Eastern Trail through Scarborough Marsh
This is a small section of the trail with marshland on both sides of the path. It definitely looks like a great place to canoe or kayak. We're going to have a look at our canoe and see if it can be salvaged. Or, get the bikes out and ride the trail!

A couple more shots from this section of the trail -

Cattails Scarborough Marsh
Cattails in the marsh

Birch fungus
After our walk we continued toward Pine Point where there are several more excellent areas for birding. Along Rt 9 we went into Old Orchard Beach and then back up to Rt 1. To make this a day trip, stay on Rt 9 all the way to Cape Porpoise, meandering in and out of the towns of Biddeford, Saco and Kennebunkport and along the Kings Highway to Goose Rocks Beach into Cape Porpoise. Here's our Day Trip to Cape Porpoise for more photos. (Although I mention Cape Porpoise while you're here, you could make a whole day of kayaking and picnicking in and around Scarborough Marsh. If you just go for a short walk, though, you can find lots more to do in the area by driving along the shore.)

From White Cedar Inn it's about 30 minutes to Scarborough Marsh. In the summer expect to need bug repellent and lots of sun screen. Schedule your kayak rental before heading out, it's a very popular place to paddle around. Take I-295 south to I-95 south. Exit from I-95 at exit 42 and take the Haigis Parkway to Rt 1/Rt 9. Go right on Rt 1/Rt 9 south. Turn left on Rt 9/Pine Point Rd after passing the marsh, and the Audubon center is about a half mile from Rt 1 on the left. The additional parking for the Eastern Trail is a short distance on the left.

Bring binoculars and a camera!

White Cedar Inn 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032